Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 181 February 28, 1940

At 0.45 AM, Soviet High Command permits 34th Tank Brigade to retreat from East Lemetti Motti. The Finns allow about 2750 Soviet troops including sick and wounded to escape on foot - about 1000 make the Red Army lines to the South (250 die en route), but all 1500 men moving East are hunted down and annihilated by Finns on skis. Finnish attacks continue overnight on the motti, which is notable for the large number of Soviet tanks (about 100 many of which are dug in as fixed artillery).

Further North, Swedish Volunteer Corps (Svenska Frivilligkåren) takes over front line duty at Märkäjärvi in Salla. Although officially non-belligerent, 8,402 Swedes, 1,010 Danes and 895 Norwegians volunteer go to Finland. They will lose 28 dead, 50 wounded and 140 invalids with frostbite.

Allies again promise to send troops to Finland and urge Finland to legitimise their actions with a formal appeal for assistance.

British battleship HMS Duke of York is launched, although she will not be commissioned for active service until 4 November 1941.

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