We’ve gotten mostly dug out from the biggest blizzard to hit the area in more than 30 years. It began in earnest Tuesday and, by noon yesterday, had dumped 15″ of snow. Of course, the snow didn’t fall in a vacuum…it was carried about by 40+ mph winds. We don’t have a snowblower, just shovels, so it was more than 3 hours of shovelling to open our 50-foot driveway.
The roads need to be finished, which means the plows will dump a bunch more snow in the driveway between now and tomorrow night…and there’s still the walkway to the front door to clear. But that will mean digging through 4-foot drifts. So for now, we’re entering the house through the garage and waiting for spring.
With snow absolutely everywhere, let’s spend one more evening discussing a rather unusual engagement that took place in the Winter War.
Colonel Aaro Pajari’s successful raid on the 7th had a couple of side-effects. First, it gave a boost of confidence to the Finnish troops involved as well as those in the area. Other units picked up on Pajari’s tactics, using them to great effect against the superior numbers of Red Army soldiers. Second, it caused the Russians to become far more wary than was really necessary. Sniper fire and well-entrenched Finnish platoons could tie up battalion- and regimental-sized forces. The raids had replaced the Russian arrogance with gross hesitation.
Finnish Colonel Paavo Talvela had experienced this first-hand. His troops, having retreated for the first week of the War, had begun a series of jabs against the Russian 155th Division. With the enemy now off-balance and nervous, Talvela planned an all-out offensive for December 11th. The Red Army, however, had other ideas.
As the clock struck 11:00pm on December 10, 1939, an entire Soviet battalion marched, undetected, through dense forests and attacked Talvela’s left flank not far from Tolvajarvi (and not far from the scene of Pajari’s raid). There were almost no troops there, just field kitchens, cooks, a few personnel, and some medical units, which were quickly driven off.
But the cooks left behind huge vats of sausage soup simmering over the fires, which the attackers smelled. They stopped, looked around for a moment, then grabbed spoons and bowls and helped themselves. The momentum of the attack was broken.
Colonel Pajari, still in the Tolvajarvi area, quickly assembled the scattered cooks, medics, and quartermasters into a 100-man force and commenced a counterattack. The subsequent fight, named the “Sausage War”, was brutally vicious, with hand-to-hand combat and knife fights waged around steaming pots of delicious dinner.
When the attacks subsided in 11th’s morning hours, the kitchen’s soup kettles were mostly empty, having been riddled with gunfire. The ground was strewn with soldiers, temporarily warmed by a purloined dinner, now frozen in death. Many still had mouths full of sausage. Only a few dozen Red Army soldiers from the battalion returned to their lines.
Recommended Reading: A Frozen Hell