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Battle of Hanko (1941

See also: Baltic Sea campaigns (1939–1945)
The Battle of Hanko (also known as the Hanko Front

Soviet passenger ship Iosif Stalin, used for evacuation of troops
from Hanko in November 1941, was damaged by a mine on 3
December 1941 and captured by the Germans.

1 Background
Remains of dugouts in the forest on the Hanko peninsula, just
east of the town of Hanko.

As part of the 1940 Moscow Peace Treaty which formally
ended the Soviet-Finnish Winter War, Hanko was leased
to the Soviet Union as a naval base. The civilian population was forced to evacuate before Soviet forces arrived.
The leased area included several surrounding islands, several coastal artillery sites (among them the important fort
of Russarö), important harbor facilities, and an area suitable for an airfield, which the Soviets quickly constructed.
Troop transport rights from the Soviet Union to Hanko
and back put severe strain on Finnish-Soviet relations,
and played a part both in Finland’s decision to allow German troops to transit Northern Finland, and later, to go
to war with the Soviet Union. Though Hanko had originally been leased as a naval base, ground forces were far
more numerous, with only a small naval detachment being present at the base.

Railway artillery gun TM-3-12. In June–December 1941 they
took part in the defence of the Soviet naval base on the Hanko

2 Operations
At the start of the war, Finnish ground troops quickly
isolated Hanko and its 25,300-man Soviet garrison.
Though Mannerheim initially declared that liberating
Hanko would be a primary goal of the war, Finnish troops
in the area did not receive authorization to attack the base.
Instead, as the Finns had built the Harparskog line on the
border of the leased area during the Interim Peace, they
moved to occupy these positions. The front remained
mostly static, with action consisting mainly of artillery
strikes and some limited probing or patrol activities on
both sides. Small scale naval and amphibious actions took

or the Siege of Hanko) was a lengthy series of small battles fought on Hanko Peninsula during the Continuation
War between Finland and the Soviet Union in the second
half of 1941. As both sides were eager to avoid a major,
costly ground battle, fighting took the form of trench warfare, with artillery exchanges, sniping, patrol clashes, and
small amphibious operations performed in the surrounding archipelago. A volunteer Swedish battalion served
with Finnish forces in the siege. The last Soviet troops
left the peninsula in December 1941.

was successful. which managed to transport roughly 23. Putting up fierce resistance. I. Finnish and USSR 1940–1945. due both to strong Soviet resistance.lib. Finnish forces surrounding the base initially consisted of the 17th Division. and supporting units. the Finns managed to retain control of the lighthouse while summoning help from nearby naval forces and coastal artillery. and had made it problematic for freighters to 3 References reach the Finnish ports of Helsinki and Kotka. Jörgensen. as territorial gains remained negligible.3 Evacuation The evacuation of Hanko was performed in several convoys. allowing safer passage. G (1952). VoenIzdat. In the morning Finnish reinforcements were able to force the remaining Soviet raiders to surrender and drive their naval support away. pp. These problems. but it wasn't un. Soviet naval forces performing the evacuation suffered heavy losses from minefields. the 17th Division. minefields outside of the gun range of Russarö to allow freighters to reach even the Eastern ports. with matewar: the German campaigns in Norway. Christer (2002). which had made up the bulk of the besieging force.1941”. in addition to the rapid German advance on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. was transferred to East Karelia. muistelmat. Chris. “Battle of Bengtskär 26. as Finnish sentries believed the approaching boats to be German minesweepers. p. Finnish troops entering The Soviet base at Hanko. its accompanying coastal fort the area found it heavily mined. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 370–372. By the end of the summer. which often failed to detonate on impact). In autumn 1941 the order was given to evacuate Hanko. til the Soviet evacuation that they were able to clear the [2] more secure coastal sea-lane. Helsinki: Meriupseeriyhdistys/Otava.07.2 3 place in the surrounding archipelago. As Finland lacked the resources to transport enough goods over [1] Mann. however. performed in the middle of the night in foggy conditions. [3] Birgitta Ekström Söderlund. and the minefields laid to protect the Soviet Baltic Fleet had hindered Finnish and German naval activities. 1941. 2. troops and most of their light equipment and supplies had been removed by December 1941. “Sotatoimet Hangossa 1900–luvulla (Finnish)" (PDF). 1971 (http://militera. [7] “Evacuation of Hanko” . claiming several Soviet supply vessels. Heavier equipment which couldn't be readily moved was sabotaged or destroyed in place.1 Amphibious operations Both Finnish and Soviet coastal forces conducted numerous small-scale amphibious operations in the archipelago surrounding the Hanko Peninsula. The first of the these clashes took place at the beginning of July 1941. between October 16 and December 2.html) [5] Kimmo Nummela (2007). Finnish efforts to blockade the base from the sea were less successful.[2][6][7] at Osmussaar. the 4th Coastal Brigade.000 troops to Leningrad. Kabanov На дальних подступах (Russian). and withdrawing from them under fire was extremely hazardous. which had a lighthouse and was thus an important observation post. 76. Ian Allan.[2] REFERENCES assault against the Finnish island of Bengtskär.2 Battle of Bengtskär Main article: Battle of Bengtskär After capturing the small island of Morgonlandet in July 1941. The fighting continued throughout the night. The fleet suffered casualties from Finnish minefields and coastal artillery. Soviet forces launched a small-scale amphibious [4] S. In general the operations had little effect on the overall battle. and to equipment failures (such as torpedoes used by Finnish submarines. ISBN 978-0-7110German minesweepers had opened a sea-lane through the 2899-9. Fighting on these small islands was often fierce. Base personnel. Hitler’s Arctic land this caused severe logistical problems. Mannerheim. Retrieved 2010-05-23.[5] 2. losing 3 destroyers and 2 large transports (Andrei Zhdanov and Iosif Stalin) as well as several smaller vessels. Finland and the rial stuck in seaports on the Western coast. toinen osa. Helsinki: Otava.[2] Kijanen. 2. Suomen Laivasto 1918–1968 II. the small garrison recovered si1/index.[2] Minefields laid on the sea lanes leading to Hanko and the surrounding waters were more effective. active operations ended the following October. [6] Mannerheim. Kalervo (1968). caused the base to lose its importance and made it an untenably heavy burden for the Soviet Baltic Fleet. The initial landing.

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