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  • ✪ The Red Army Regroups to Crush Finland - WW2 - 020 - January 12 1940
  • ✪ Current Affairs January 12 , 2019 : English MCQs


Motti... ya.. motti... Hmm Hmm January 12, 1940. Motti is a Finnish word for around half a cord of wood, which foresters chop and then leave behind them to be picked up later on. In the Winter War- the ongoing Soviet invasion of Finland, it means a group of surrounded enemy troops. The Motti Battles begin in earnest as this week does. I’m Indy Neidell; this is World War Two. Last week the Chinese continued to make small, piecemeal advances versus the Japanese. The Japanese signed a secret treaty for a Chinese collaborationist government to be set up, but terms of that treaty were made public, and they were harsh on the Chinese. And near the Finnish border, invading Russian divisions were being absolutely destroyed by the Finns. But Soviet leadership has made some big changes to prepare for future offensives. General Semyon Timoshenko, who took part in the occupation of Poland, is the new Soviet Commissar of Defense and the Commander of the Finnish Campaign. He had previously been Commander of the Northern Caucasus, Kiev, and Kharkov Military Districts. Timoshenko assures Josef Stalin that he can crack the Mannerheim Line- the main Finnish defense system, but unlike what Stalin’s generals said 6 weeks ago, Timoshenko says it will not be a cheap victory in lives. He gets Stalin’s promise that he will not be held responsible for the dead. His Chief of Staff is Georgi Zhukov. We saw him back in our very first episode when he beat the Japanese at Khalkhyn Gol. Kliment Voroshilov, who was Commissar of Defense, is demoted to Deputy Chair of the Soviet Defense Council, and Kirill Meretskov, who had run the Finnish campaign until this week, is demoted to lead just the 7th Army in the Western Karelian Isthmus as those troops are reorganized into 7th and 13th armies. The biggest changes in actual procedure are in tactics. There had been no coordination between different types of units; the artillery hadn’t been plotted, just pointed at general targets; field leaders could not call in for supporting fire- heck, there was plenty of friendly fire even. So retraining is being done from top to bottom, with tactical training that gibed with reality and not theory. The main new battle plan, against what the Soviets knew were stretched thin defenses, is called “gnawing through”, and is simple. An armored wedge will pierce the Mannerheim Line; waves of infantry then break the whole sector, and the Finns will abandon the whole position. You might think this sounds like what they tried in December, but you’d be wrong. There will be intense branch coordination and proper artillery pre plotting. Aerial recon has pinpointed the majority of the Finns fortifications on the line, and a full-scale model of the Summa defense system has been built behind Russian lines for them to practice on and perfect coordination between armor, infantry, and artillery. The coming offensive is going to be anything but a repeat of last month. There is still fighting actively going on in Finland though. “... the situation developed quite logically. As the fierce battles continued along the various northern roads, the Finns saw the segments of the Russian columns that they had isolated... curl up like worms... They simply stopped and dug in with their panzers and artillery, and the Finns had no choice but to surround them. Soon, Western reporters were telling the world about the Finns’ new kind of fighting tactics, but for the Finns... mottis were a distasteful, though necessary evil.” The mottis are different from each other. I mean, it depends on what sorts of units are surrounded. Some are only tank units while some are infantry. Sometimes it’s supply units and sometimes even divisional headquarters. If it’s trucks or tanks, they run out of gas pretty quickly, but if they have a lot of ammo they can mount a powerful defense. And the Finns dig in around them. Food supplies in mottis eventually dry up, and even though some food can be air dropped, it isn’t nearly enough and the Finns intercept a lot of that anyhow. When the days become weeks, the lack of food and supplies became dire. So why don’t they try to break out back toward Russia? Well, Red Army manuals and orders from higher ups say that all taken territory must be held to the last man, so they starve and freeze to death. But destroying them is a tall order. In General Woldemar Hägglund’s 4th Finnish Army Corps sector, for example, there are 160,000 Soviet troops in an area of just 100 square miles, most of them in mottis or in the process of being formed into a motti. He can’t give them a chance to regroup, so reinforcements are called in and eventually the Finns number nearly 50,000. The real danger is the un-surrounded Soviet 168th division, which together with the 18th division, and the 34th tank brigade have joined forces. Hägglund’s forces attack beginning the 6th. They’ll reach the shores of Lake Ladoga near Koirinoja starting at the end of this week. Meanwhile, other Finnish units arrive from the west to finish surrounding the Soviet units and this completes the only actually planned motti of the Winter War. But Hägglund now has ten powerful mottis in his sector to deal with. There is, as I’ve said, a lot of public sympathy in Britain and France for the plight of the Finns, but public sympathy isn’t being translated into much government action. There are some plans afoot for an expedition to Narvik, Norway’s ice-free northern port, from where Germany gets its Swedish iron ore during the winter. The reason for that: “The cynicism that characterized Allied policy during the Polish campaign thus reasserted itself. In the early months of 1940 London and Paris urged the Finns to keep fighting, because if they quit there would be no excuse for intervention in Norway. A wild French proposal to land an expeditionary force at Petsamo on the north (Finnish) coast was vetoed by the British, who still declined to clash headlong with the Russians.” The French thinking leans strongly toward not directly challenging Adolf Hitler militarily. I mean, they could’ve been bombing the heavy German industry in the Saar all this time- it’s within easy range and they are at war. But they haven’t done so. French PM Edouard Daladier and company want to get the action as far from France as they can, so they have plans to help strengthen the naval blockade of Germany by cutting the Swedish iron supplies. This will mean violating Norwegian neutrality either with mines in Norwegian coastal waters or sending troops onto Norwegian land. German ships are not currently respecting Norwegian neutrality in terms of the Norwegian coastal waters, so on January 6th, Lord Halifax, British Foreign Secretary, tells the Norwegians that Britain is going to mine Norwegian waters to force German ships out further to sea where they can be attacked. He does not ask for their consent. And other attacks are being planned further to the south. On the 10th, Hitler sets the 17th as the date for his big attack in the west. Germany will begin saturation bombing of the French airfields the 14th. By now, two million German troops have been moved near borders of France and the Benelux countries. The forecast is for nearly two weeks of clear weather. Also on the 10th, though, two German officers in a Messerschmitt B108 Courier plane are forced by weather to land after they go off course and stray over Belgium. They land near Mechelen sur Meuse. Major Helmut Reinberger has the invasion plans in his briefcase and is unable to destroy them before they are taken by the Belgians, who turn them over to the Allies. This is the Mechelen Incident. Hitler still plans on going through with the attack, though an immediate effect of the incident is that he decrees “No one- no agency no officer- is permitted to learn more about a matter that is to be kept secret than he absolutely needs to know for official purposes.” This enables him to keep the political and social workings away from military commanders, which might be a good thing for him, because, as Martin Gilbert writes, “Mass executions had become the method both of seeking to cow the Polish population and of destroying those Germans who were considered unworthy of life.” On the 9th, Dr. Hildebrandt, chief of SS and police of Greater Danzig-West Prussia reports that his SS units have executed around 4,000 mental patients in Polish hospitals and also around 2,000 incurable Germans in Pomerania. And here are some notes to end the week. On the 6th, Finnish pilot Jorma Sarvanto shoots down six bombers of a Soviet formation in rapid succession. This makes the news worldwide and is reported as a record. On the 8th, the last of 316,192 British children who were evacuated to the British countryside when the war broke out return to their homes. On the 11th, France announces that no beef, veal, or mutton will be sold on Mondays or Tuesdays. And another week of the war comes to an end. With the Finns surrounding the Soviets, Hitler again planning to attack in the west, and everyone planning to violate Norwegian neutrality. Though the Allies at least aren’t going to tell that to the public. I mean, how can they? Britain’s supposed causus belli for the First World War was Germany violating Belgian neutrality, how do you think the British public will feel if they now just start mining Norwegian waters and landing troops there? But they won’t tell them. See, that’s how modern war works- plans that was surely kill thousands of people are built on lies and deception. And in all of this there is conspicuous absence of US involvement – if you want to understand more about why the US was on the sidelines during these mounting conflicts, check out our episode about the origins of US isolationism in the 1920s and 30s in the Between 2 Wars series, it’s right here... You should definitely follow the war day by day on Instagram, link below. Our Patron of the week is Fridtjof Mahnke it is Fritjof’s and the rest of the growing TimeGhost Army that keeps this series advancing ! Join the TimeGhost Army at Patreon or, our war effort needs you. See you next time!





Holidays and observances


  1. ^ Bill Friskics-Warren (16 December 2013). "Ray Price, Groundbreaking, Hit-Making Country Singer, Dies at 87". Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Max Beck's meaningful life - Southern Voice Atlanta". 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  3. ^ "Notable deaths in 2018: Keith Jackson". ABC News Arts & Entertainment.

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This page was last edited on 22 June 2019, at 03:18
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