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Memories from The War 1941-1944


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by Sven Lågland

Sven Lågland on his 85th birthday - 1919-2005
This journal was written between shooting and free moments. We were 20-year-old draftees from Österbotten and Nyland, as well as some Finnish boys who drove our trucks and tractors. Our officers were reservists from Nyland. What I wrote about is mostly the First Battery because we were so fettered with equipment that we couldn’t run here and there. Our Section 13 had a new German 6-inch heavy howitzer so we were well-equipped.

21 June 1941

At 8:30 o’clock the section moved from Hennala garrison in Lahtis to Salo-Miehikkilä and dug a position there.

4 July

Along the way to Ahola in the Imatra area with the Fourth Cannon from the First Battery we had an adventure that ended luckily. The cannon loosened from the truck and headed for Saima Canal, but it was stopped by the railing along the road..

8 July

At 2 o’clock the first cannon salvo in the Continuation War was fired from the First Battery. A Russian outlook tower got a direct hit. There for the first time we could hear Russian shells firing and whistling.

11 July

Now we have decamped and at 11:30 o’clock we drove toward Nuijamaa Kattelus village where we received a warm reception by the Russians with shells whistling over our heads, but with no great injuries.

The following address could not be geocoded: Nuijamaa,Finland. The map cannot be displayed.

12 July

At 11:30 o’clock we fired off our first shot from here. We now see that the war is a foolish operation. We fired, the Russians fired, and the Russian airplanes fired at our troops along the road. The First Battery had a tense moment when we visited the canteen wagon – the Russians fired and the road became the target. For the first time we witnessed aerial combat between the Finns and Russians when two Russian planes were shot down and started to burn.

13 July

Fourth Cannon personnel 13 July 1941:

Troop Commander, Under Sgt. Lindberg, Helsingfors
Cannon Commander, Under Sgt. Sven Lågland, Karleby
Aimer, Res. Vahrman, Helsingfors
Firer, Kan. Valdemar Holgers, Kronoby
Gun Carriage man, Kan. Ebenhard Svartsjö, Terjärv
Gun Carriage man, Res. Elf, Helsingfors
Loader, Kan. Anton Vickman, Terjärv
Chart man, Kan. Sand, Vasa
Projectile man, Kan. Erik Käld, Kronoby
Projectile man, Res. Henriksson, Helsingfors
Projectile man, Res. Dahlkvist, Helsingfors
Projectile man, Res. Lönnholm, Helsingfors

Our Sergeant Major had the bad luck to find himself at the battery when a Russian shell came through our position. He got a shell fragment in his back and the troop commander got a fragment in his hand and leg.

14 July

At 2:30 o’clock came the awakening and our battery fired that night and day over 100 shells, but the Russians were worse – they fired continuously.

16 July

Today was a sad day for the 13th Section because the Russians fired a direct hit into the tent of the staff battery. According to the information 5 boys died and 10 were wounded.

17 July

A fairly calm day. We had a visit from Suomi film who filmed the firing of our cannon.

18 July

This was one of the calmest days so far at the front. The enemy has not fired many shots. Perhaps they are regrouping their troops for an upcoming attack or they have begun to draw back, which we hoped. Otherwise they will bite the dust from our fine howitzer.

19 July

The calm didn’t last long, for today for the first time we received ample shell fire over us, which we also returned.

20 July

All day Sunday we buried our cannon. Previously our cannon had no protection. Otherwise the day was calm with only our scout planes circling in the sky.

21-22 July

Still calm among the ranks.

23 July

Now the days become worse. An unlucky day for the First Battery and particularly the Fourth Cannon. The previous evening the Russians fired all night through. At 12:15 o’clock an accident happened in the First Battery, Fourth Cannon when a shell exploded when it left the firing tube (10 m.), two of the cannon personnel and the troop commander received shrapnel wounds. The same day at 18:30 o’clock a shell from the enemy came and landed 10 meters in front of the cannon; shrapnel whirled around 15 cm over our heads. At 19:15 o’clock came the command to fire and the entire battery was put into action. Then we heard the enemy firing and in a few seconds heard the unpleasant whistling that came closer and closer. A shell came near the Fourth Cannon two meters from the cannon, exploded and splinters flew. The silence lasted a few seconds and then came the anguished cry for Help! Help! We who escaped the shrapnel ran to help our comrades and after our first baptism of fire, we carried our comrades 200 m. to the maintenance road where a truck waited to take them to the hospital. They were bleeding heavily and should have been bandaged immediately but there was no sanitary equipment there. All of the boys in the dugout had crawled beneath the gun carriage, but that didn’t help when shrapnel came into the dugout. Our good Vahrman died instantly and two other boys, Lönnholm and Käld died of their wounds on 25 July in the field hospital at Joutseno. Two boys were wounded by splinters and stayed in the hospital a while, and then returned. Another comrade climbed between the wheels of the gun carriage and was not hurt. Another comrade threw himself into the cannon commander’s group and was safe. Otherwise we were 10 men with the cannon. We don’t remember those who moved to Nuijamaa. The cannon was also damaged and at 22 o’clock in the evening we drove it to a repair shop in Villmanstrand where it took several days to repair it.

26 July

Today the cannon was driven into the old dugout.

27-28 July.

We fired many shells with our cannon, but the enemy kept quiet.

29 July.

Now we saw that the 10th Division, to which we belong, was in readiness. We drove from our dugout in Nuijamaa and moved north to the Rautajärvi area. During the journey we had a mishap. Another truck pulling a cannon drove too near the edge of the road and overturned into a ditch along with the boys, shells and gun powder, as well as other belongings, but no one was hurt.

30 July.

At 15 o’clock we were in the Rautajärvi area and after a short delay we drove north of highway to a position 12 km south of Simpele, 4 km. from the border and settled for a little sleep because we had been on alert for three days.

31 July.

We dug small holes for us in case they would be needed. Later learned they wouldn’t be needed. Now it was time to attack, so at 12:30 o’clock came the command to fire and the section fired 66 shells in a short while. Also the other Finnish sections fired shells so it thundered around us. The infantry attacked but was beaten back.

1 August.

At 3:45 o’clock there was another assault by our section. We fired 120 shells in succession and the barrel became so hot that it sizzled when we spit on it. Our infantry attacked and went forward. The enemy had to leave their position and many bit the dust. Our infantry was not so lucky – it was reported that many fell.

2 August.

At midday artillery activity from the First Battery was lively. For some hours we fired 84 shells after the fleeing enemy – we could shoot 10 km. ahead. At 20 o’clock came the order to decamp and at 22 o’clock we drove from our position and the journey east began.

3 August.

At 4 o’clock in the morning we drove to our new position which lies east of Simpele ca 15 cm – the village is called Änkeli-Salo. During the journey we were shelled but did no damage to our section. Cottages were burning all along the way. It was diffcult to say if shells hit the cottages or if the enemy burned them as they retreated. The cannon was ready and at 8 o’clock we fired 36 shells from our battery, but we also received large and small caliber fire from the enemy. No direct hits on us but they fired through our position. We had no shell holes to dive into so we had to lie under the gun carriage which was a good place. The shells came all day long from the Russians and their planes circled over us all day. This was the first time in the war that we crossed over the Finnish-Russian border. At 22 o’clock our sleeping holes were finished so we could lie down and sleep. We had been awake a day and a half.

4 August.

We didn’t get to sleep for very long. At 3 o’clock we were up and shooting. It went fine but we were also shelled. At 10:30 came the command to return fire and we shot and received shots. It rained and our dugouts became half-filled with water. It was a problem to get rid of the water and to find some durable cover. The infantry has gone farther ahead and created a wedge in the Russian line. It was debated whether they should move forward to the Ladoga shore and divide the enemy into two parts. We were a bit dissatisfied with the Russian artillery to the left of us – they fired constantly and irritated us with their shells. We wanted to fire back and silence them, but we didn’t get permission. When we weren’t with the cannon we hid under a large rocky knoll nearby. The area was called Pirunkallo. There was a Russian bunker nearby but we couldn’t go there because higher authority had aready confiscated it – a little disappointment to us.

5 August.

At 3:15 o’clock in the morning came the command to fire and we fired 60 shells from the battery in preparation for attack. At 20 o’clock came the word to decamp. We made ready to drive away from our position but new orders came that the Fourth Cannon should get ready to fire because a Russian patrol had come through our infantry line and was only 500 meters from our position. Our battery did not see the patrol, but it provoked the machine gunners and riflemen for some hours. At 8 o’clock at night the Fourth Battery moved out of position, for the exchange of fire between the Russian patrol and our infantrymen stopped. It was very dark in the night.

6 August.

At 12 o’clock we were in front with a new position in Huiskinniemi; at 13 o’clock we were ready to fire, and at 14:15 o’clock we had fired 16 shells. We could see that the Russians had retreated. Some were still in the woods and we saw Russian prisoners.

7 August.

During the day we fired 380 shells and it was reported that our section destroyed an entire Russian battery.

8 August.

We were on the move all night and fired several rounds. At 3 o’clock came the order to prepare to move and we moved forward only 3 km. At 7:30 o’clock we were in a new position and at 8:20 o’clock we were ready to fire. We fired 84 shells along the railroad that leads to Sordavala. The enemy fired now and then in our direction, but they didn’t come close.

9 August.

At 8:30 o’clock came the order to prepare to move and at 18 o’clock we were at Korpivaara and were ready to fire. At 20 o’clock we fired several times. Now the enemy began to evacuate war materiel with barges over Ladoga and here at 10 km. it is just right distance for our cannon. At this place in a shed the enemy had his command post, for their telephone line was left there. We think that overnight their men came to scout around, so we drew back, set up a tent, made tea and went to sleep for we had been awake four days. We were moving to Kurkijoki.

10 August.

Today is Sunday and we fired 60 shells at the enemy trucks on a barge on the Ladoga shore. Here at Kurkijoki we can see that conditions are fairly calm. The enemy has gathered all their war materiel. We can see a large stock of ammunition and it is proof that they are in a hurry to move. At 18 o’clock we moved from our position to bear more northerly 14 km. on the way to Lumivaara. At 21 o’clock we were in a new position and were ready to fire, but after a while there was no more shooting that night.

11 August.

This was a calm day. Only 10 shells fired. The matter is critical for the enemy – they have a way to retreat over Ladoga by barge.

12 August.

From Kurkijoki we moved to Myllymäki. At 18 o’clock we were ready to fire and fired at once from our new position. While moving forward we could see Russian weapons that were left behind.

13 August.

Our section fired all night, harassing the enemy and at 6:30 o’clock we fired in preparation for an attack on the enemy – from our battery we fired 140 shells as well as what was fired from the entire section. Our battery is only 4 km. from the shore of Ladoga – the Russians have moved all their artillery out to islands in Ladoga. We can’t fire our weapons that far, but today we fired closer so that we could see the shells explode and that the woods were burning. Our brave infantrymen moved on and attacked the enemy. We heard the rattle of machine guns and other noises. It is only 3-4 km. to the infantry line. At 19 o’clock noticed a direct hit on a Russian battery.

14 August.

At 4:40 o’clock we prepared for an attack. Our battery fired 120 shells at various targets all morning; by afternoon it was more calm.

15 August.

Our battery fired at a Russian machine gun nest that was blasted into the mountain. We sought to find an opening but came only 1 meter closer than we are now. Our firemen came from a position near the front and said they could see that several Russian divisions are on a point of land on the Ladoga islands. When our infantry attacked yesterday morning they came to a place that is good for defense. At 13:30 o’clock they found a new object – a concrete dugout, and the Second Cannon decided its fate. The Russians ran around like frenzied hens and the Second Cannon fired a shell and many Russians lost their lives. At 14:15 o’clock we fired on a Russian battery and made a direct hit.

16 August.

At 1 o’clock we prepared to attack, but it was postponed. I cannot say why. At 9 o’clock came the order to fire along the road. Several days ago we heard that the Russians had left the Kurkijoki area. They left behind ammunition for three divisions and thought they would blow it up with a passenger car, but were not successful because their car was shot-up by a Finnish anti-tank cannon. At 20 o’clock we continued firing with our artillery. The Third Cannon has fired most of the time. The target has been a road that the enemy uses because they have no other passable route. Our commander gave the order to shoot fast as their horse-drawn vehicles and cars pass by and there were many direct hits. An accidental shot can happen. A group of boys were in the roadway and had rifles with them. When Karleby boy Elving Granlund went to pick up his rifle he was shot in the stomach and died.

17 August.

At 1 o’clock 40 shells had been fired and between 2-4:30 o’clock more shells were fired. During the night some boys were wounded, but slightly. The Second Battery firing chief, a Karleby boy Svante Sundbäck, was killed by a Russian sniper who aimed from a cottage balcony. Our battery began firing along the road – same territory as yesterday.

18 August.

At 1 o’clock we began firing and the enemy fired back without results. After midday came the order that the Fourth Cannon should move down to the Ladoga shore to give the Russians a greeting when they move their barges. It was an interesting moment when the Russians released a smoke screen and pushed their barges along. We fired at them up to 13 km. and could see the water splash, but could see no direct hits. It is difficult to estimate the distance over the water. Now we have cleared the Russians of this section with little loss. But how it is with our infantry is difficult to say. Moving has not been so good, for there have been many tough battles from the Simpele area down to the shore of Ladoga. Still today came the order to decamp. We will move south to our old position in Nuijamaa.

19 August.

While moving to Nuijamaa we went via Lumivaara which was burned down and then to Simpele, Vuoksenniska, Imatra and Juotseno. It is about three weeks since we left Nuijamaa. It has rained much of the time and it was difficult to settle into our old shell hole which was full of water, so some artillery has to be left beside the hole. We were soon ready to fire, but it wasn’t necessary – the enemy has moved away.

20 August.

A calm day. The Russians haven’t fired and neither have we. We lie here and rest, for the commander thinks the enemy finds it difficult because of the wedge that was driven at the Ladoga shore.

21 August.

While it is calm here, it is thought that while we traveled the Russians retreated and burned the area they left.

22 August.

At 12 o’clock the order came to prepare to move and at 16 o’clock we left the position at Nuijamaa. At 22 o’clock we were ahead at our new position at Pikkalajärvi and at 23 o’clock we were ready to fire, but the Russians have moved their artillery east of Viborg. We hope it will soon be taken over. Now we have moved to Kämärä and while traveling we could see the Russian destruction – entire villages were burned down and only chimneys stood against the sky. All the bridges have been blown up as well as bunkers and nests. Now we are 20 km. from Viborg where it is thought to be better to consolidate than at any other place we traveled through. At 7:30 o’clock our battery fired 92 shells. At 13:20 o’clock the order came to prepare to move and at 15 o’clock we drove out of our position and traveled to an area by Kämärä station. Our position is now on a sand ridge in the woods or what was formerly woods because the trees are burned and mangled - this place is one of the battlefields from the Winter War 1939-40.

24 August.

Today Sunday the shooting began at 7 o’clock so we cannot keep our holy day of rest. During our journey we saw many dead Russians who had laid there so long they began to decay. Russian horses with carts and other debris were there. We buried a lot of the dead who were near our position because the odor was not pleasant and we had to be cautious so we wouldn’t get sick. At 18:30 o’clock our battery moved 1 km. because it was difficult to camouflage ourselves from the planes. Today two boys died, Vestermark and Pellfolk. One boy had just arrived from home leave the day before.

25 August.

A more quiet day, but also a sad day. Two of our firing command boys were wounded slightly. For one of them it was his first day at the front. In the evening a Russian company came through our line and we were in a defensive position but didn’t have to intervene. Our infantry men did a good job and we were able to sleep that night.

26 August.

The command to fire came because the Russians are in front of us and Viborg is in grave danger. Again a Russian patrol or company had come through our line so we were forced to draw up our forces around our battery. At 16 o’clock the order came to prepare to move but nothing happened so we swung our cannon around and continued to shoot.

27 August.

A more quiet day. We saw no planes that used to fly all day long. Again a Russian patrol came through. Our boys volunteered to go through the Russian patrol and the Russians didn’t see them. Our patrol came upon two Russian planes that crashed in the woods – they were probably from the Winter War. Later in the day our battery commander also saw the crashed planes.

28 August.

A quiet day for our battery. At mid afternoon the order came to move and at 17 o’clock we drove to the Terijoki road and then to Perkjärvi where we camped overnight near Perkjärvi station. On the way to Perkjärvi we saw what misery and sorrow our shells caused to the Russian column.

29 August.

At 9:30 o’clock we were at our new battery position and at 10 o’clock we fired at a Russian train. Our battery was detailed from the rest of the section and became a detached battery. At 16 o’clock the order came to move and we drove ca 10 km. east toward Mustamäki and camped overnight along the road.

30 August.

At 6 o’clock we drove to Mustamäki and fired immediately at a Russian train and scored a direct hit. Later in the evening we were ordered to move and drove ca 10 km. ahead to Raivola where we set up a position but there was no shooting.

31 August.

Shooting began at 12 o’clock and at Vammelsuu and Terijoki stations we fired on a Russian train.

1 Sept.

At 8 o’clock we had orders to move to Terijoki and ca 8 km along Ino road we set up a position there.

2 Sept.

There was no shooting with cannon, but instead with rifles because the enemy roved the woods. Many threw down their weapons and gave up. A Russian squad we met had plenty of weapons and they fired wildly, but the Finnish soldiers chased them and many of the enemy sacrificed their lives and two from our battery were wounded. One boy Kvarnforss from Larsmo died of his wounds several days later. At 15 o’clock the order came to shoot at a Russian column that came from the direction of Viborg. After we fired, our infantry boys attacked. Now that Viborg was free from Russian troops and the Finnish army was on the front sectors of the old boundary, what would happen to the Continuation War was a question mark. We came here to clear out the Russians and we hope that the Finnish army will not begin to march to Petersburg. We calculated that the Fourth battery fired 948 shells and the Third battery fired 960 shells. The boys with the Fourth battery have fired skillfully – for example, five discharges went off in 40 seconds.

3 Sept.

A more quiet day. The Fourth battery was on the shore of the Bay of Finland to shell a Russian warship. No direct hits were noticed but 22 shells were fired at it.

4 Sept.

At 1:30 o’clock the order came to move and at 5 o’clock we left our position and moved to Nykyrka and Perkjärvi. We paused there a while and at 8:30 o’clock we aimed toward Valkjärvi and overnighted 5 km. from there.

5 Sept.

We rested nearly all day. Now again we have been connected to the rest of the section.

6 Sept.

Did the same as yesterday.

7 Sept.

The order came to move at 5 o’clock. We drove through Rautu and Kärsäläby that is only about 1 km. from the old border. At 10 o’clock we were ready to fire but the enemy has moved away.

8 Sept.

At 5 o’clock we left Kärsälä and drove ca 10 km. north to Isokorkeanmaa and crossed 6 km. over the old Finnish-Russian border. Our officers said the border will be straightened out. Where they got this word or idea is hard to say. There is a rumor that part of our infantry refused to go over the border and be shot at.

9 Sept.

There was shooting this morning and off and on during the day. This area is thought to be heavily fortified. We heard automatic weapons firing and the infantry has not gone forward. At 8 o’clock in the morning the day order was read about promotions, etc.

10 Sept.

A quiet day. Not one shot fired during the entire day. At 18 o’clock came the order that the battery should move into position but no shooting happened.

12 Sept.

At 11 o’clock began preparation to fire before an attack is made on an enemy hill that is heavily fortified. Whether it succeeded is hard to say. At 17 o’clock the order came to move back to our old position to shoot at an enemy column that moved away. Another cannon fired 7 shells at the column.

13 Sept.

At 11 o’clock we fired again at the enemy column and immediately came the order to move. We drove about 4 km. to Teniolova Lempala. Lempala lake is before us. The line makes a turn here, so we have the enemy on the other side of the lake and to the right and left of us.

14 Sept.

We have begun to dig a protection hole for us and the ammunition.

15 Sept.

There was no shooting the entire day. We worked more on the dugout because we think we will stay here a long time. It is quiet with a little shooting here and there.

16 Sept.

The shooting began at 20:30 o’clock. Our firing leader had spotted enemy muzzle flashes so now we need to destroy this enemy battery. Otherwise it is fairly quiet here. We are only 4 km. from the enemy so in the evening we hear the enemy loudspeaker inviting us to come over and have a taste of vodka. The evening is dark and we can see the sky is red; probably it is the Germans bombarding Leningrad, and we can hear the thundering of the guns from there.

17 Sept.

We continue to dig holes for our artillery and a place for us if we have to stay here over the winter. Today our division was visited by Field Marshal Mannerheim. He also greeted our own section.

3 Oct.

Two weeks have passed and we continue to stay at the same place at Lempala where we are working on a place to live. The shell holes are fine – the best we have ever had. The Russians have tried to attack but we held them off. We expect the pressure from the Germans on Petersburg will be stronger, so no decision has been made about our position. We have fired a lot during the past hours, mostly we have fired at Russian armored trains that are ca 10 km. from here and some impact was noted. Some Freedom medals Second Class have been awarded to some of our boys.

1 Nov.

Nearly an entire month has passed and we have begun to take home leave. Work continues on our dugout and we have started to dig protection for our trucks in preparation for the winter. Otherwise it is quiet. We have not fired for a while. The enemy has tried to attack several times, but without results.

7 Nov.

In midafternoon our new section commander Major Svendelin visited our battery. Our old section commander, Lt. Col. Hulphers was transferred to the Salla sector.

6 Dec.

It is Independence Day here at Lempala, with a field devotional service. In the evening the First and Second batteries had arranged a celebration in which the section commanders took part, accepting our offer of imitation coffee and biscuits.

7 Dec.

Today our Fourth Cannon fired at a Russian battery.

14 Dec.

This Sunday morning there is great silence and relief from the Russian propaganda. It is cold outside but comfortable in our dugout. The tea wagon was late so we could not eat and drink our morning meal - it is so good to have warm tea.

31 Dec.

It is now 19:45 o’clock on New Year’s Eve. I shall now put down some thoughts about this year before it passes into eternity. 1941 has been a memorable year. One has seen much of the dangers of war and deceit and the importance of civilian life which is valued greatly. We want peace between Russia and Finland, a real peace that lasts a long time into the future. Cheers to our country and welcome to 1942 with success for Finland and its people.

1 Jan. 1942.

It is now 5 minutes into 1942. Precisely at 24 o’clock the Third Battery fired 10 shells over to the Russian side, another division fired their artillery, and the infantry began to shoot their weapons. The shooting lasted 7-8 minutes and it reminded us of the beginning of the war which started with a bang and thundered the same way. Now the enemy can hear that Finland has steel behind its people of steel.

19 Jan.

It is now 23 o’clock. Most of the boys in the section have served for two years.

6 Feb.

Today is a nice day. Our flying together with the Germans has been an active operation. Planes leave and return from Leningrad. We seldom see the Russian planes.

9 Feb.

Shall write some about social gatherings. It is well organized in this region. We have had several gatherings here in this defensive position. The entertainment yesterday was exceptional, consisting of good songs and ballads, theatrical skits, and four accordions. Last and best was a choir from Helsingfors that sang beautifully and received much applause. Here in our battery we have put together a shed we shall use for gatherings. Each Sunday we have field devotions.

20 Feb.

It is 6 o’clock in the morning and we shall have tea or imitation coffee. The boys have worked hard with barbed wire in case the enemy comes through the infantry line.

24 March.

Yesterday truck inspection began. They were inspected by the section officer and he found nothing wrong. After that inspection we drove the artillery ca 250 meters to an inspection station. The section commander and section officer inspected the artillery and found no problems. We overnighted there and had to sleep in the field. It was cold. At 8 o’clock in the morning we drove back to our position. So that inspection was over but there is another inspection on Friday. We shall have infantry drillls, ski training, artillery drills and horseback riding. We have various practices each day lasting into the evening, so we are not idle. Yesterday was like a day of spring and the weather was mild. Today it is slushy and snow is coming. We probably will begin an offensive move and maybe could have an end to misery and war.

28 March.

Yesterday was the last day of inspections for a while. All went well and now we are at leisure after all the hard work.

31 March.

At 7 o’clock we fired at a Russian battery.

7 April.

The artillery from the Russian side has been active today. They fired what they usually shoot, but nothing came near us. Airplanes were also active and we can see how important our air force has been the entire time.

29 April.

Sickness can also take away some of our comrades as it did with a Terjärv boy, Ebenhard Svartsjö. He died 16 April of pneumonia at the Painio military hospital. His friend Sandvik and I had 3 days leave to Terjärv to put flowers on his grave. During this leave to our home area, a cousin’s remains arrived. Holger Furu had died at his post at Aunus on 14 April.

17 May.

We fired today to honor those who died during the war. Flags were at half staff through the entire country and memorial services were held at all churches as well as here on the front. Our section also held divine service and the section commander read the names of all those in the section who have died.

23 June.

Now midsummer has returned and it is a beautiful afternoon. A celebration has been arranged for the morning and evening because not everyone can come at the same time. Someone has to stay with the cannon. A while ago a Russian plane flew low and our air force had no hits. Our planes circled around the front line. We don’t have much to amuse us here. That is not our purpose for the enemy will come through now and then.

2 July.

Last night at 1:30 o’clock we had little rest – our battery fired 6 shells. The Russians hit the horses in an enclosed pasture 100 m. from here. Four horses were killed and three were wounded. Now there is some Russian propaganda via the loud speaker, in Finnish with music in between.

11 July.

At four o’clock the Russians began concentrating artillery north of Lempaala, and an hour later Russian planes were here twice, firing machine guns at the infantry and dropping bombs. Our airplane guns chattered continuously without being hit. At 6:30 o’clock we heard shots from Russian artillery and our artillery fired back. The Russian attack failed because we would have heard more chatter than we now hear.

11 July.

The Russians attacked, a bomber fell and 3 reconnaissance planes were hit. I should mention that sports-minded boys can practice running and shooting with a rifle during the summer and winter. We had tournaments in our battery and the entire section competed against each other. I won and my prize was a little trophy and an extra day’s home leave.

2 August.

A group from our section went to Kiviniemi to see the army’s athletic tournaments. There were thousands of spectators. Here the war was quiet except for loud cannonade, probably the Germans who are putting pressure on Leningrad.

26 August.

At 5 o’clock in the morning the Russians began to hammer with artillery. It was in preparation for an attack. They attacked a little later, but without results. Otherwise it has been quiet here. The Third Cannon from our battery has been ordered to Veikkola because some deserters said the Russians plan to attack Veikkola with armored tanks, but nothing has happened yet. Maybe it was propaganda the deserters heard. Yesterday there was a competition in cross-country running. Our section took part with a team. The patrol chief was Lt. Nikander, I was the non-commissioned officer as well as Corp. Sven Honga, Corp. Yngve Storbjörk and Kan. Koping and Reserve Kan. Lassila. Our patrol came in fourth with 77.8 points, only three points behind the first patrol.

2 Nov.

No snow has come yet. A group of boys from our battery have been on construction work in the Valkjärvi area. We built a cottage for a war widow. People evacuated but gradually come back to their home area. All buildings were destroyed so it is necessary to begin again.

Soon we will move to the Orpo position, 1 km. from here. Orpo was a Swedish battery with 8-inch howitzers. They have moved so we will use their position. We have dug holes and a dugout is there already, but we will tidy up.

6 Nov.

Swedish Day was celebrated as a free day. In the afternoon our section had a party with the staff battery.

7 Nov.

I was 23 years old today. It was much like yesterday – cooked a little extra strong imitation coffee that we drank and had some bread.

12 Nov.

Today we moved to a new position in Orpo. The following day our battery was inspected by Lt. Gen. Öhqvist. Everything was OK.

14 Nov.

Today we had our first snow but it melted the next day. We will get full winter on 25 November.

16 Nov.

Today we fired test shots with the Fourth Cannon.

6 Dec.

We celebrated 25 years of independence today. There was a field devotional service with Pastor Sandbacka and we paraded before Major Svendlin. There was extra imitation coffee for the section.

24 Dec.

Held Christmas divine service with the staff. Pastor Sandbacka spoke and delivered the Christmas message. Christmas coffee was served afterward. Here’s how we celebrated Christmas Eve, 1942. At 16 o’cock the battery had coffee together in the new canteen and at 18:15 o’clock we gathered around Father Christmas and sang Christmas songs. Then the pastor held a short devotional hour and the section commander wished us a good and happy Christmas. The best came later – we had a lot of good food – potatoes and Christmas ham, then rice pudding and soup. When we were satisfied and contented we began our own Christmas celebration which was mostly singing and music, and at the last there were three parcels from home. At 23 o’clock the celebration ended and we were happy to go to our dugout underground. Christmas Eve was something hopeful shared together that we will remember for a long time.

31 Dec. 1942.

New Year’s Eve, at 22:30 o’clock. Will write some lines this last day of the year that I had hoped would be a peaceful year. We begin to be a little pessimistic that the conclusion of peace will come later. We hope the coming year 1943 will bring better results. Just came from the New Year’s celebration with the staff battery – a pleasant event.

1 Jan. 1943.

New Year’s Day. At 24 o’clock last night it was a hellish war for five minutes. Now there is nothing – not a single shot.

19 Jan.

Today it is three years I’ve been in the Finnish army. I came as an inexperienced young man to Petsmo north of Vasa while war was raging. Have been on home leave 6 – 19 Jan. Had 14 days and 3 extra days for summer orientation.

12 Feb.

The Fourth Cannon crew has dug a new dugout, one that is 4x5 meters; it is timbered with logs and on the roof are large logs with ca 1 meter of sand on top. This is excellent. The old dugout was too small for 10 boys.

27 Feb. 1943.

Here is the crew for Fourth Cannon:

  • Troop commander, Sven Lågland, Karleby
  • Artillery chief, Artur Kåla, Karleby
  • Corp. Pehr Holmbäck, Kronoby
  • Kan. Valter Nordberg, Jakobstad
  • Kan. Daniel Jansson, Jakobstad
  • Kan. Veikko Pasanan, Esse
  • Kan. H. Forsbacka, Terjärv
  • Kan. Olof V. Särs, Terjärv
  • Kan. Bergström

We held a division competition and the ski trail goes over a hill that the Russians could see. They were ill-mannered and fired their artillery during the competition; one of the contestants died and one was wounded.

27-28 Feb.

Division competition in field shooting 27 Feb 1943:

  • 12 km:
    • 1- Fagerudd
    • 3- Vistbacka
    • 17- Viksten
    • 38- Flöjt
    • 39- Lågland

15 starting. Thirteenth section won team competition with 3 men.

Was with Third Cannon to Viborg for inspection and small repairs. The trip lasted 13 days.

30 May.

Now at the end of May we have a sunny day. Nothing is happening. We haven’t fired the cannon very much.

27 July.

A sad day. When I got up this morning there was a telegram from home that my oldest brother Runar was killed on the Soviet front 23 July at 19 o’clock. It has been three years since we saw each other and said farewell. We did not think that would be our last farewell. My other brothers meet now and then on leave – we were 7 brothers in war service; youngest brother is 18 and working at home. We brothers had letter contact with each other all the time.

Heard later how brother Runar lost his life. He was to exchange guard duty with a comrade from Nyland who was to turn his rifle over to Runar, so he didn’t take his rifle with him. When he got there he noticed Russians were there and were holding the guard prisoner. There was nothing Runar could do and he tried to get out before they saw him, but the Russians shot and hit him. He was torn to pieces and died instantly.

11 Sept.

Came back to the front after my brother’s funeral. It was a sad time at home and at the funeral. One cannot forget when we 7 brothers stood as guards of honor at the grave side. Doctor Krook poured three shovelsful of sand, gravel and dirt onto the casket in the open grave at the war graves section at Karleby church. The burial day was 1 August 1943 and it was the saddest day of my life. Runar’s life will be remembered and honored forever.

The Russians still attempt to take prisoners for propaganda purposes. They force them to proclaim over the loudspeaker how good he has it there and that his comrades should also come over.

7 Nov.

I reached my 24th birthday today here at Tenilovo Lempala. Nothing happened today. Our section gathered at the staff battery to listen to Professor Gabriel Nikander, father of our battery commander. The professor talked about dealing with Swedish Österbottingar in the future. Yesterday on Swedish Day our battery celebrated at the canteen where the professor spoke of the inspiring achievements of the Swedes in Finland. In the evening we had our first snow.

31 Dec.

At 23:45 o’clock there aren’t many minutes left of 1943 and then the new year comes in. We all wish for peace. We hope the war will end. Hope that next New Year’s Eve is peaceful in our country and that we’ll be a little more comfortable than we are now. Now it is midnight and the new year is a fact. There were not many shots fired at the stroke of midnight. We fired our cannon once in the evening and once on New Year’s Day.

An Unforgettable War Memory 1944

19 Jan. 1944.

This event happened in the summer of 1943 when the enemy planes photographed our battery position and plotted us on their map. In the mid-afternoon it broke loose. The enemy wanted to silence our battery before their attack. They took the hill near us but we took it back later. We boys had a pretty rough time at the cannons as we were constantly under enemy fire, so we had to seek shelter in the dugout, which was safer. Or that’s what we thought. We went in and half-jokingly I said, we’ll shut the window so we won’t have any shells in the dugout. Heard an enemy cannon fire and in a few seconds we had an 85 pound shell coming in through the window and going out the back wall where it exploded. The back wall was dented and the roof of the dugout had moved a little. We were 8 boys in the dugout which was 15 ft. by 12 ft. and no one happened to be hit by the shell. Perhaps the air pressure saved us by throwing us up against the back wall. Yet, one of the boys hurt his hand over the opening where the shell exited and was cut by a metal piece from it, and another one was hit black and blue by wooden splinters in his arms and back. To give you a picture of how bad the air pressure was I can tell you that a l0 mm wood splinter passed through a 3 mm thick aluminum coffee pot, which was on the stove three meters from where the shell entered. Now the amazing thing. Upon entry the shell came through between two logs. This changed its direction into vertical. If that had not happened the shell would have hit the dugout floor and exploded there. We would have been goners. Another lucky thing was that the ignition of the shell was set at a 0.4 second delay, which means that the shell explodes 0.4 seconds after the hit. We found the ignition and could tell this for a fact. Usually both sides had their ignition set at 0.2 second delay, or at the so-called sensitive ignition point. When the section and division commanders heard about the incident they came over to look at the holes in the dugout walls, and noted that a miracle had happened. Will just add that a sermon was held the next day to thank greater powers for saving so many young lives.

Now on 19 January 1944 it has been four years since I left Gamlakarleby station and began service with the Finnish army. After so many years at the front, many boys are weary of the war and not without reason – many began to go to Sweden. Now I have a secret assignment from the battery commander. I shall quetly follow with the boys’ discussion and doings before home leave, for it was during this leave that they took a boat to Sweden. There were not many from our unit who ran off, but there were many from other units.

15 Feb.

At 15:30 o’clock our battery fired several shells as the Russians attacked to the right of us, but were pushed back.

16 Feb.

After 7:15 o’clock the shooting began and we fired back – they returned fire. Then 10 shells came through our positions but nothing happened. Then the Russians took a hill west of us and were pushed back; the attack lasted 3 hours. Then we were ordered to a new position because the Russians had spotted our location and it was not good to stay there. The new position is ca 1 km. back and not far from our previous position.

18 Feb.

At 7 o’clock we had orders to move and at 9 o’clock we drove to a new position. There was no shooting today, but now we shall be cautious and not shoot unnecessarily so the Russians will detect us. We have had many ski competitions during the winter and now with home leave, I am rewarded with three extra days.

27 March.

At 6 o’clock we began shooting from this position for the first time. We fired 16 shells per cannon. The Russians attacked to the right of us but were driven back. No shells came over us. Was on farm leave from 16 May to 3 June, plus 3 extra days.

10 June.

Yesterday reminded us that we are still at war. The Russians attacked in several places on the isthmus and found how how strong we are.

10 June.

The enemy took a hill in front of us and were driven back. Something is going on in the Bay of Finland for we can hear cannon thunder. Our entire battery fired over 100 shells. Russian planes have bombed several places near the line such as Valkjärvi, Rautu, Kiviniemi and Raasule. When Rauto station was bombed 20 soldiers died.

Leave is denied here on the line, so we will see what happens. Hope all leads to peace.

Brother Helge was severely wounded at the Svir front on 24 April. He had a rifle bullet through the head (the cerebellum) by a Russian sharpshooter when he worked on the dugout roof. He was unconscious for two weeks, operated on and is better considering the circumstances. Brother Göran is at Kiski-Suomen Parantala in Jyväskylä. He had a major operation on one lung and has had a difficult time.

12 June.

We have been with our cannon all night but no big battles have come to our sector. The day was long. We moved the cannon some hundred meters to get ready to change the direction of shooting.

The Russians have attacked with great force near the Bay of Finland and broke over the border into our country ca 20 km. Yesterday evening (Putte) Sandström from Purmo was killed and today two boys were wounded.

13 June.

At 5 o’clock we prepared to move and left our position a few hours later while the enemy fired artillery, but all went well. Returning from Lempaala we drove 8 km. back toward our country to a chosen position, but moved farther back to Miettilä where an old defense position was found.

14 June.

At 6 o’clock we were ready to fire. We boys took a little nap, which was good, because the Russians began a lively airplane action. At 23 o’clock the Russians dropped some bombs along the way and bad luck came in the woods when Kan. Nyberg from another artillery was hit by shrapnel in the back and was taken to the hospital.

15 June.

The day has been long and quiet. We can only wait to see if the Russians come after us. Our infantry has drawn back so we won’t be trapped. The Russians have moved forward in another sector.

16 June.

At 16 o’clock during the night we moved to Rauto because the cannon was too low for firing at the fortification line. From Rauto we fired many shells, but the Russians also returned fire.

17 June.

Orders came at 22 o’clock to prepare to move because now it is very somber for our army and country. The boys are weary of making war and have no fighting spirit left against superior forces – the war has lasted a long time. We have orders to move to a waiting position 4 km. from Kiviniemi. The Russians have moved forward from the Bay of Finland shore to Nykyrka and Kanneljärvi. So we are a little uneasy that we will end up being trapped because the Russians have also moved forward through the V. T. line to the west of us and they have probably set a trap here. So our moving became necessary at the last minute, but we were able to get away. The infantry was moving back – the entire road between Rautu and Kiviniemi was full of our soldiers. From our waiting position at 6:30 o’clock we moved on foot day and night, with no sleep. We drove only to Vuosalmi north of Vuoksen. Here is a good defense line for the Vuoksen is ca 200 meters wide. There the shore is quite high so there is a good outlook when the enemy comes closer. Probably the last defense line is along the Vuoksen, if this line doesn’t hold the negotiation table is the last way out.

19 June.

A long and quiet day – waiting for the approach of the enemy.

20 June.

Now we begin to sense the enemy. We have begun to aim at them but no shooting has started yet. The Russians have passed Kämärä and Muolajärvi, so they are getting closer. Here before us they tried to attack but were beaten back.

21 June.

Today we have heard loud heavy cannonade from Viborg all day, so it seems the Russians have taken Viborg yesterday.

22 June.

Yesterday the Russians attacked the bridgehead with armored tanks but were beaten back. We fired an artillery barrage for a long time and it seems to have worked. Today we have also fired a lot. In the section close to the 65th or another battery there was a mishap that could have been worse than it was when their barrel exploded. It killed a comrade and two were wounded of the 10 boys with the cannon.

23 June.

Midsummer’s Eve is a beautiful evening but dangerous, for the artillery has played its usual role. Today we fired often and were fired upon in return. Our cannons began to gradually shut down. The 66th has had two cannon destroyed today.

24-25 June.

Nothing of importance to report. Quiet and calm days.

26 June.

We were with the cannon all morning and fired at a Russian tank that drove in front of the bridgehead. At 22:15 o’clock the Russians began an intensive artillery barrage around our battery position, but all went well. Karl Skrabb and I hid together and we figured ca 50 shells exploded nearby. In the 65th battery a shell went into the shell hole and the boy hiding there was torn to pieces.

27-28-29 June.

The war continues on all fronts. The Russians dropped literature from a plane that said a Russian had directed their artillery from the Vuosalmi church tower – no wonder they could fire directly into our battery.

30 June.

At 8 o’clock at night the shooting began. We assume our boys set out and mines and all went well. Our troops have a Russian prisoner who said the Russians would attack our bridgehead tonight, so we continued firing at the Russian infantry and the attack was stopped this time.

1 July.

A comrade was wounded while burying cable about the Vuoksen shore, but not seriously.

2-3 July.

Rather quiet aong the bridgehead. An enemy shell landed 2 m. in front of the Fourth Cannon, but did little harm.

4 July.

At 4 o’clock in the morning the Russian artillery began hammering the bridgehead, and a little later at our position. Kan. Nordberg was wounded in the arm by shrapnel. Russian shells came through the battery and several boys were wounded. We fired continuously all day into the night. We fired over 600 shells today. We figured ca 50 Russian shells landed around our position, so there aren’t many undamaged trees here. Other batteries were also shelled and had wounded men. Now it is time to think about moving the cannon because it’s not a good idea to stay here and be fired at by the Russian artillery. They broke through the bridgehead but were beaten back.

5 July.

It was quiet all day but at 18 o’clock things happened. The Russians began to shell the bridgehead so we thought they would try to take it. We took our places at the cannon because now it was time to shoot at their stretched out line so they won’t have a chance to advance. I stood in the shell hole and all at once an enemy shell landed near the battery and shrapnel flew. A piece cut the back of my head and stopped at my neck. I was wearing my helmet. My wound was bandaged and during a lull in the shelling from the enemy we drove to the staff battery to have my wound examined. While I was there many wounded infantry men arrived. They were severely wounded and naked because they had to swim over the Vuoksen from the bridgehead. They said while they swam the hundred meters over the Vuoksen, the Russian planes flew over and straffed them so it’s no wonder they were distressed. Later that night the boys in the battery also learned that the Russians chased the Finnish defenders from the bridgehead and came to the Vuoksen shore. Luckily they were too exhausted to come over the Vuoksen for the way was open. The situation was critical that night. The boys packed their possessions for now we might have to retreat without our cannon and war materiel if the Russians come over the Vuoksen. I thought I would be needed at the battery so I suggested to the doctor that I return to the battery, but he said I must go to the hospital with my head wound. So that night I traveled by ambulance to the military hospital at Varkaus.

3 August.

Nearly an entire month has passed. I came back to the battery at Vuoksen and Vuosalmi. Our battery took a new position and had a new Russian cannon of the same caliber as we had before. I understood it was a war trophy. In addition, the rain has started to cause trouble with the gun powder and the troop commander who substituted for me during my time away received field arrest for negligent supervision of the gun powder so it wouldn’t be damaged by the rain. The artillery commander is responsible for what happens.

4 Sept.

It is a month later. At 8 o’clock all weapons are quiet. Can it be true? Not one shot has been fired. At last comes the eagerly awaited peace. The government of our country has said we cannot continue the campaign, that we don’t have enough help from our German brothers-in-arms. They want to keep all the war materiel for themselves. No one can believe it. How happy we were to hear about peace over the radio. We have fought three years after the Winter War, been tested hard at times, but we have coped well, although many had to give their lives for the country. We thank our creator that He has led us through these days of war and continues to lead us, for we need His help in the future. The Russians ceased firing a day later on 5 Sept. at 8 o’clock. Probably a misunderstanding.

15 Sept.

Here at the front all is quiet and still. The weapons are silent now. Yesterday we heard cannon rumbing and wondered what it meant, but we heard over the radio that the Germans, our old brothers-in-arms, attacked Hogland but were pushed back. Finland and Russia are negotiating for the best peace terms, which may come over the radio in the next few days. Peace delegation leader Hacksell has suffered a stroke in Moscow.

20 Sept.

Yesterday we came to Rautjärvi, Tuorsansalo village, the Winter War area where we started our assault against Russia in 1941, so now the circle has come to an end. Peace terms have been reached and they are difficult. We have to give up Karelia and the Porkala territory. Now we have to begin to work to build up our country.

25 Sept.

We have evacuated the territory surrendered to Russia. We have worked day and night. Yesterday at midday was the last time to go to the Russian side for wood because at 12 o’clock the border is closed for good.

5 Nov.

We dreamed of civilian life. Then came an advance notice that we who are in the motorized section have to prepare to travel to northern Finland and chase our German brothers-in-arms out of the country. It was a part of the peace terms with Russia, but it did not appeal to us boys, so it became a freezing point until a counter-order came – no travel north. Now the civilian days began. The section probably will move to Lahtis or Helsingfors.

7 Nov.

I completed another year in the Finnish army – my 25th birthday came and went like any other day. Perhaps the best young years have passed here in the Karelian woods.

8 Nov.

We rode with our trucks and cannon and war materiel direct to Helsingfors and Malms shooting range. The trip took 16 hours and we were at our destination at 5 o’clock in the morning.

12 Nov.1944.

We stayed only two days at Malms shooting range and rode with a courier direct to Vasa and Gamlakarleby. The campaign is over for our part. Hope it is the last.

Killed First Battery 1941-44

Res. Vahrman 21 Jul 1941, Helsingfors
Res. Lönnholm, 24 Jul 1941, Helsingfors
Kan. Erik Käld, 24 Jul 1941, Kronoby
Kan. Elving Granlund, 16 Aug 1941, Karleby
Kan. Vestermark, 24 Aug 1941, Vasa
Kan. Pellfolk, 24 Aug 1941, Närpes
Kan. Kvarnfors, 2 Sep 1941, Larsmo
Kan. Ebenhard Svartsjö, 16 Apr 1942, Terjärv
Korp. Knut Sandvik, Terjärv
Serg. Svanström, Helsingfors

Wounded First Battery 1941-44

Fältväbel Gerivitha, 13 Jul 1941, Helsingfors
Serg. Nygård, 13 Jul 1941, Helsingfors
Korp. Valdemar Holgers, 21 Jul 1941, Kronoby
Kan. Anton Vickman, 21 Jul 1941, Kronoby
Korp. Roberts, 30 Jul 1941, Helsingfors
Res. Granqvist, 30 Jul 1941, Helsingfors
Korp. Rönnqvist, 4 Aug 1941, Larsmo
Serg. Stålström, 17 Aug 1941, Helsingforss
Kan. Kurt Forsbacka, 17 Aug 1941, Terjärv
Kan. Hellström, 17 Aug 1941, Kronoby
Kan. Nils Moström, 17 Aug 1941, Kronoby
Und. Serg. Hanson, 25 Aug 1941, Helsingfors
Res. Ljungqvist, 2 Sep 1941, Helsingfors
Kan. Nyberg, 15 Jun 1944, Kronoby
Und. Serg. Sven Dahlström, 1 Jul 1944, Vasa
Serg. Sven Lågland, 5 Jul 1944, Karleby
Kan. Valter Nordberg, 5 Jul 1944, Jakobstad
Kan. Grönlund, 5 Jul 1944, Petalax
Kan. Eliel Ravall, 5 Jul 1944, Terjärv
Kan. Damsten, Närpes
Löjtn. Saxen, Åbo

Final Words

It is over forty years since we lost the war against the Russians. Similarly, the Germans had to surrender to the Russians and to America. The negotiations helped our country retain independence and sovereignty. Much new technology has been discovered since then. The greatest scientific success is the walk on the moon, also TV, computers and nuclear plants, which are a good source of energy but a threat to humanity. Also, not to forget the missile which is death to the whole world, if it is fired. Now we pray and hope that those great powers which govern the world will let peace prevail, and let the people on earth work in peace and quiet and help the needy and hungry who are so much a part of our world.

Karleby, 30 March 1987
Sven Lågland

English translation by June Pelo

See below for peace terms with Russia after the war.

The War and After

The war with the USSR was over, but there were still German troops in the north of Finland. They would not leave voluntarily, so Finland had to drive them out. As they left, the German troops destroyed most of what they passed through - 90% of the forests, villages and cities. Every house and barn in Lapland was burned, and the market town of Rovaniemi laid waste. Large herds of reindeer were slaughtered. In Finland every ninth citizen lost his home to Russian or German invaders. In 12 days 56,000 people took refuge in Sweden. Living conditions were terrible. Food had been rationed for five years, cattle were fed cellulose, cloth was made from cellulose. People lived in dugouts, huts and tents. The Germans had blown up all power stations, bridges and buildings, and mined all the fields. Eighty percent of Finland had to be rebuilt. Sweden took 70,000 people along with their cattle. The destruction wrought by the Germans made Finland the most devastated region of Europe.

Russia demanded, and got, Finland's most valuable province, Karelia. The citizens were given a choice of remaining and becoming citizens of Russia or they could leave, taking nothing with them. Of a population of 420,000 less than a dozen Karelians elected to remain. It seemed impossible that Finland, with a population of less than half the number of New York City, could absorb these homeless, possessionless refugees, without jobs or connections. On top of everything, Russia demanded from Finland reparations amounting to 80% of Finland's peacetime exports, to be paid in six years (this exceeded the entire resources of Finland). Much of the reparations were in machinery and metallurgical products that were not a normal part of the economy and for which they had no raw materials, tools or equipment. Delivery had to start from the day of the armistice, and each month's delay brought a 5% penalty. 578 boats had to be built and completely equipped, including carpeting in tug boats! Also, 30 factories for manufacturing pulp, plywood, 50,000 motors, 1,000 power stations, 700 locomotives and trucks had to be sent to Russia.

At first the Finns felt it would be impossible to meet the demands. Yet, without a whimper, the demands were met. The country had to make enormous financial sacrifices to accomplish this. September 19, 1952 was a day of great relief in Finland. They completed exactly on schedule the last of the reparations payment. An amazing feat, one that probably no other country in the world could have attempted or achieved.

At the end of the war Finland still owed debts outside the country, one of these was a large one - to the United States for food sent her in 1919 during the desperate shortage caused by the civil war. Payments had been promptly made on this debt, up to 1949. In America a growing feeling of admiration for this honest little nation led to a movement to cancel the debt. But Finland wanted no favors. So began an unusual contest between proud debtor and generous creditor, a most remarkable reversal of the usual international situation. In 1949 Congress voted to accept Finland's request that a certain sum should be utilized to further understanding between the two countries. The money was to be returned by the U.S. to Finland through scholarships for young Finnish men and women to study in the States, and for young Americans to teach and study in Finland. Under this program more than 100 citizens come to America each year to acquire new skills and to study American methods in their fields. In return they spread understanding of Finland and the Finnish way of life among Americans.

Excerpts from “The Land and People of Finland” by Erick Berry, and “Finland” by Tamiko Bjener

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