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Burning of the bridge over the Onda river

The men marched from Rugozero Village to Ondozero, held a common meeting in the village and recruited as many volunteers as they could find weapons in the village. From Ondozero they then went to Kuchezero Village, from there through the thick forest to Kirasozero Village, from where they again followed the Onda River towards their destination.

After difficult travel, a group arrived at a bridge over the Onda River. For a long time the Karelians observed the environment, the soldiers guarding the bridge suspected nothing. One guard walked on the bridge in turn, the others were housed in two railway wagons that had been removed from rails and located near railroad. When, by chance, the guard went to the wagon with his cigarette to ask fire, the Karelians attacked the bridge, surrounded the wagons and demanded that the bridge guards surrender. The total number of the guards was sixteen men. Of course, the guard did not surrender, but tried to resist. At that time, the Karelians fired two volleys at the wagons, as a result two Russians were killed and one was wounded. The guards then surrendered. The wounded was the commander of guard.

Karelian medical soldier bandaged wounded commissar.

Now began the destruction of bridge using the meager tools that the Karelian guerrillas were equipped with. On both sides of the bridge, guerrilla patrols rushed four miles away to break the railroad, to give the main forces safely time for their main work. They had one wrench only. The second patrol had to use crowbar to shift the rails aside.

The carrying bombs were wet and did not explode. And there would have been too few to destroy the whole bridge.

Therefore, the bridge had to be burned.

The Russians, who were Siberians, helped the guerrillas burn. Right from the start, they advised to use two barrels of creosote from their warehouse, itself rolled it onto the bridge, and smeared the top of bridge by this highly flammable substance.

Guerrillas cut down and twigs in the forest, as well as all the telephone and telegraph poles nearby, carried all to the bridge, and soon a powerful flame blazing.

The attack to bridge took place in early night.

But in the hasty bustle, the wounded commissar was forgotten. He saw the suitable opportunity and, faithful to his idea, fled to report what had happened at the nearest station.

When bridge had burned down to the water level and the nearby located spare bridge parts were largely destroyed, an armored train arrived from the North, as close as the damaged railway allowed.

Karelians had to hastily retreat. They completed their mission and did not want to fight against a unit of unknown size.

The Russian soldiers of the bridge guard wanted to join guerrillas, but the Karelians could not accept them. Guerrilla commander’s response to their alarmed requests was: ”We don't need the Russians, go wherever you want.”

After taking their weapons and other equipment, the guerrillas began to withdraw.

Russian bridge guards were left waiting for their fate without weapons and without a guarded bridge. Later, a military tribunal sentenced them all to be shot.

After the Karelians had reached a short distance from the railroad, their rear patrol noticed the Russian cavalry on the railway embankment. There were about 150 horsemen. The cavalry had tried to chase, but in poorly frozen swamps and an unknown thick forest stopped their futile attempts soon.

On the back way, guerrillas spent the night in the Kuchezero Village, and the next morning continued on their way via the Kalliolahti Village to the Korguba Village.

Part of the detachment separated from the Korguba Village to the Elova Gora Village, and the main forces moved in the direction of the Tunguda Village.

The burning of the bridge was a significant achievement for the guerrillas. If there presented opportunity to quickly destroy several bridges on the Murmansk railway, the Russians most likely would leave the White Sea Karelia to the Karelians, without trying to defend it until they could concentrate large forces.

The Russians, on the other hand, due to the destruction of the bridge, got to see numerous and prolonged difficulties in rebuilding of bridge and in dragging of military equipment over this river.

At the first opportunity guerrillas tried to destroy the other bridges, but Russian troops guarded its in such large numbers of men and so strictly that all the attempts of the guerrilla parties were in vain.

Were made attempts to disrupt the construction of a bridge over the Onda River, but its did not caught a significant delay for the Russians.



Ilmarinen
Memories of the Commander of the Forest Guerrillas
II. Fighting in Karelia
1931

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