Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 120 December 29, 1939

After being trapped and constantly attacked in Suomussalmi for 22 days, Soviet 163rd division evacuates on an ice road ice over Lake Kiantajärvi. 2000 men, 48 trucks, 20 field guns and 6 tanks head 20 km northeast towards their own lines in a 4 km long column. Finnish 9th division moves into Suomussalmi, killing Soviet delaying forces in the deserted village and stragglers on the frozen lake. Overnight, the Finns start to chase the slowly-moving column.

Stalin endorses Chief of the Staff Shaposhnikov’s plan for a massed attack on the Karelian Isthmus towards Viipuri and Helsinki. Commander of Kiev Military District Semyon Timoshenko volunteers to lead the new operation. Kirill Meretskov, his all-frontier plan having failed, is demoted from overall command to lead 7th Army on the Isthmus. Meretskov survives this humiliation and finds glory defending Leningrad and, ironically, fighting Germans in Finland. He will become a Marshal of the Soviet Union.

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