|Died||1 Jan 1947|
Contributor: Morgan Bell
ww2dbaseThe son of a newpaper editor, Siilasvuo had studied law, and been involved with politics in the Ministry of Education. He was an officer in the Jaeger Battalion in Germany during the Great War, and later became a battalion commander during the Finnish Civil War. He was opinionated, but a cunning military commander.
ww2dbaseSiilasvuo was a colonel that Mannerheim assigned to lead JR-27, Finnish troops sent to oppose two Red Army divisions, the 163rd and 44th, at Suomussalmi during the Winter War. Siilasvuo fought the 163rd division, full aware that if ever the 163rd and 44th met up, it would all be over for the defenders of Suomussalmi. While fighting the 163rd division, Siilasvuo sent troops to take advantage of the terrain the slow moving 44th was using to pin the division so they could go no further. The 44th were a crack division, but their expertise was fast moving mechanised warfare, and the terrain meant the had to leave their heavier equipment behind, go slowly with what they had, and the unit had plenty of skis but few in the division could ski. After dealing with the 163rd [i]mottis[/i], the Finns looted as much weapons and equipment and used it to attack the pinned 44th. Even though they were tired from destroying the 163rd, Siilasvuo\'s division of the spoils immediately amongst the troops raised morale, convincing them they could finish the 44th.from two directions - north and south. From the 163rd and 44th divisions, the Finnish soldiers captured 85 tanks, 437 trucks, 1,620 horses, 52 cannons, 40 field artillery, 78 anti-tank guns, 20 tractors, 13 AA guns, over 6,000 rifles and an enormous amount of ammunition. The Soviet High Command executed a number of generals for this loss. Afterwards, Siilasvuo was sent to the Kuhmo sctor, to deal with the Red Army 54th division. Upon arrival with all the new weaponry, Siilasvuo ordered an artillery barrage of 3,200 rounds, something unheard of in the Finnish forces during the Winter War. Siilasvuo\'s men pinned the 54th, but it survived until the peace. With his record in the Winter War, Siilasvuo was promoted to general.
ww2dbaseHe again took command of Finnish troops in the north during the Continuation War, and was serving on the Karelian Isthmus when the Soviets broke through in 1944.
ww2dbaseWhen Mannerheim became president of Finland, Siilasvuo was given command of Finnish forces ordered to evict the German soldiers in the Lapland War. The battle in the north was not as deadly as the Winter War, only 1,000 Finns and 2,000 Germans died in the Lapland War over 1944-1945.
ww2dbaseHis distinguished career throughout the Second World war earned him the Mannerheim Cross, Second Class on December the 21st, 1944. Siilasvuo's son, Ensio, followed his father's footsteps and became a general too, serving in the United Nations peacekeeping force.
ww2dbaseSources: A Frozen Hell, Wikipedia, and The Winter War
Last Major Revision: May 2005
Hjalmar Siilasvuo Timeline
|1 Jan 1892||Hjalmar Siilasvuo was born.|
|18 Jan 1940||Having already destroyed Soviet 163rd and 44th Divisions, Finnish Army Colonel Siilasvuo was ordered to take the Finnish 9th Division 30 miles south to Kuhmo to attack the Soviet 54th Division under the command of Chuikov.|
|1 Jan 1947||Hjalmar Siilasvuo passed away.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939