Hjalmar Siilasvuo

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Hjalmar Siilasvuo
Siilasvuo Raatteen tiellä2.jpg
Hjalmar Siilasvuo (at right) receiving a situation report of Battle of Raate-Road
Born 18 March 1892
Helsinki
Died 11 January 1947(1947-01-11) (aged 54)
Oulu
Buried at Oulun hautausmaa
Allegiance  German Empire
 Finland
Service/branch Finnish Jäger troops, Finnish Army
Rank Gruppenführer (Germany 1916)
Lieutenant General (Finland 1940)
Commands held Brigade Siilasvuo (Winter War), III Corps (1941–1942 and 1944), Group Lapland (1944), I Division (1944–1947)
Battles/wars Battle of Suomussalmi, Battle of Tampere, Battle of Viipuri, Battle of Raate road, Battle of Kuhmo, Operation Silver Fox, Battle of Tornio
Awards Iron Cross, Order of the White Rose, Order of the Cross of Liberty, Mannerheim Cross
Other work Writings, Municipal Council

Hjalmar Fridolf Siilasvuo (birthname: Hjalmar Fridolf Strömberg, 18 March 1892, Helsinki – 11 January 1947) was a Finnish general who led troops in the Winter War, Continuation War and Lapland War. He also saw action as a part of the Finnish volunteer "jägerbattalion 27" fighting on the German side in World War I.

Biography[edit]

The son of a newspaper editor, Siilasvuo had studied law, and been involved with politics in the Ministry of Education. He was an officer in the Jäger Battalion in Germany during World War I, and later became a battalion commander during the Finnish Civil War. He was opinionated, but a cunning military commander.

Siilasvuo 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, fully aware that if the 163rd and 44th ever met up, it would be all 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 they had to leave their heavier equipment behind, go slowly with what they had. The unit had plenty of skis but few in the division could ski. After dealing with the 163rd mottis, the Finns looted weapons and equipment and used them to attack the pinned 44th. Even though they were tired from destroying the 163rd, the division's spoils immediately raised morale amongst the troops, 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 sector, to deal with the Red Army's 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, although according to Siilasvuo the Finns would have won, had the fight gone on for just a couple of days longer. With his record in the Winter War, Siilasvuo was promoted to general.

During the Continuation War he led the III Corps in northern Finland in 1941 and on the Karelian Isthmus in 1944. After the armistice with the Soviets, he was given the command of the Finnish forces fighting the Germans in Lapland.

He was awarded the Mannerheim Cross on 21 December 1944.

His son Ensio Siilasvuo was also a general in the Finnish army.

External links[edit]

Media related to Hjalmar Siilasvuo at Wikimedia Commons