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Red Ruskies’ fuss in the White Sea Karelia

After the Battle of Oulu and the ensuing days of liberation in Tornio, Kemi and Rovaniemi, some Finnish Red Ruskies fled to the White Sea Karelia, where their leaders, including Pekkala, Vihuri, Pohjola, Iivo Ahava and some others, began the fierce agitation to persuade Ruskies, White Sea Karelians and working on the Murmansk railway Finns to join Red Guard they founded. As we have already said, Iivo Ahava made a trip via the Murmansk railway over the Petrograd to Helsinki, where under the leadership of Haapalainen was created a fantastic plan to occupy Northern Ostrobothnia from the White Sea Karelia and “Northern Front Staff” was formed, including among others such luminaries as Iivo Ahava and E.Nevalainen.

Despite the very vigorous activity, although based on blatant lies, the Red Ruskies’ leaders have not succeeded in attracting plenty of White Sea Karelians. In the southern volosts of White Sea Karelia, which are more enlightened than the northern ones, the Bolshevist – Red Guard doctrine has resonated in the deaf ears only. In the some northern regions only, such as Soukelo, Ruva, Näjö and Kannanlahti, some White Sea Karelians were fooled. The Russian blood brothers of the our bloody Reds, the Bolsheviks, of course, took up arms. Similarly, as the some of Finns, working on the Murmansk railway, most of whom have been forced to join the Red Guard under the threat of death.

After the beginning of this miserable project, an agreement was made with the Karelians of the northern parts of the White Sea Karelia, according to which the Red Guards marching to the Finnish side for two weeks. Easter was planned to be met in the church of Kuusamo. However, the intention failure, thanks to the army of the Republic of Finland. Now the White Sea Karelians are very dissatisfied, as the Red Ruskies have not kept their agreement, but are staying in Karelian villages for more than the agreed time. The White Sea Karelians have begun to earnestly expect the liberation from their Finnish brothers in White Finland, which is steadily enlarging.

Iivo Ahava-Haapalainen's plan is already coming to an end.

When the Red Ruskies, in their opinion, had got their front in order, they began attacks across the Finnish border.

Thus, about 1,000 Red Guards and Ruskies attacked Kuolajärvi, where near the Kurtti Village took place a battle with the forces of White Finland, leading by Lieutenant Villamo. The Reds were driven back.

Also in Inari the Reds have tried to infiltrate with equally poor success.

The Red Ruskies tried to rob Kuusamo in early March, but they were beaten back in blood. The forces of White Finland, leading by Jäger Captain Wallenius, were at this place. The arrival of the Red Ruskies had frightened the inhabitants to such an extent that they were moving their goods to the forest and fleeing themselves.

To prevent the permanent attacks by Reds to Kuolajärvi and Inari, a special detachment leading by Dr. Torsten Renwall was sent.

The white troops in Kuusamo wanted to secure the border from the robberies of the Reds, which led to their pursuit and disintegration.

So, in located beyond the border Soukelo Village happened a fierce battle against the Red Ruskies, where these were broken up. The battle took place on the 8th of the current month. Even before that, on the 3rd of the current month, in front of Soukelo happened a fierce clash of advanced patrols. Five of our guys were wounded and one died in this skirmish. Itself the Battle of Soukelo claimed several lives. Aarne Littov from Oulu, Eino Leskelä, Antti Kumpu, Kalle Tornberg, Ville Kurvinen and Aaro Jokela from Kuusamo and Antti Rättilä from Pudasjärvi fell as heroes in this battle. There were 15 wounded. Red Ruskies’ bodies lay in piles.

For a long time, those arriving from the White Sea Karelia have complained that the red bandits were engaging in all kinds of violence there, making the lives of the inhabitants completely intolerable. When these gangs began to threaten the border of Finland, White Guard detachments were sent from Kajaani to prevent such riots. These troops arrived on Suomussalmi and Kuhmoniemi and began expel the red gangs across the border.

At the same time in Uhtua, i.e. in volosts of the White Sea Karelia, were established Civil Guard to protect the lives and property of the local residents. A representative was even sent to ask the Finnish government for help against the Finnish Red bandits.

Due to this the White Guard troops began to pursue the Red Ruskies, expelling them all the way to White Sea Kem, from where they would not soon return. Everywhere the people received the saviors gratefully.

Advancing behind the Red Ruskies, the White troops initially made patrol trips all the way to the nearest surroundings of the city of Kem. During one such raid, a small detachment of White scouts tried to burn a small wooden bridge in the northern part of Kem, but could not do it because a large detachment of Red Ruskies arrived on the scene.

In contrast, on the night of the 8th of the current month the Whites under the command of Captain Ahto Sippola attacked few Reds’ barracks located versts to south of Kem, right near the railroad. These barracks were also used by the Red Guard. A fire battle began near the barracks, and after 2½ hours of confrontation the Reds escaped towards Kem, despite their great superiority. The barracks were captured. In city of Kem, where the battle was spotted, as a result arose a terrible commotion. Church bells rang, the ship howlers shouted, and distress signals were given incessantly. Trains from Kem rushed to the barracks to help. Then Whites burned the Reds’ warehouses and barracks with the plenty of English rifles and other supplies. The Reds had gathered a lot of food and weapons in their barracks, such as coffee, tea, sugar, tobacco, and even sewing machines. There was plenty of lamp oil. Burning Reds’ cartridge stores exploded into the air, so the Reds’ train did not dare to come closer than 2 versts.

The Reds lost a few people killed and wounded, our guys had no casualties. The Reds fired by exploding bullets.

This time, the railway and communication lines were broken.

On the 9th of the current month, at half past three in the morning, an attack was made on the city of Kem itself. Reds’ positions on the high mountain protecting the city of Kem were very strong. In addition, the Reds had machine guns and other excellent weapons. Our guys came under heavy crossfire. The battle lasted until 11 am. The Reds retreated to a fortified positions near the city. The Reds were assisted by 1,500 English soldiers who had just arrived on Kem with 10 armored cars. In addition, English ships have arrived on the port of Kem.

In the battles in front of Kem fell two White Guards – Martti Tuhkanen from Kuopio and teacher Lauri Väisänen from Iisalmi – and wounded A.Kuivalainen. In particular, the group leading by Leppävirta proved itself in the fight.

On a patrol trip, they had to fight with the Reds, who fled. 6 reds fell in the skirmish. One of these was the robber Savinainen, who had been seconded from Helsinki to the “northern front” as one of the commanders. We hope that these actions of the Whites made the Reds no longer want to make robbery trips to the Finnish side of the border.

Savotar -newspaper no. 42
Friday, April 19, 1918

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