The machine guns on the gramophones: how the red army which defended the island of Hanko from the Finns

History 21/02/20 SA-KuvaПулеметы on the gramophones: how the red army defended the island from Hanko Finns

In March 1940, after the Winter War, in Moscow was signed the agreement under which the Soviet side received from the Finnish area of the Hanko Peninsula (Gangut), the southernmost mainland of Finland. The USSR started to create around the small town and port and naval base to protect Gulf of Finland and Leningrad. It was assumed that the lease will last until 1970.

the Beginning of the war

Located 110 kilometres from Helsinki base was very important, so in the summer the large-scale construction of fortifications. In Hanko arrived more than 20 thousand soldiers, and with them several thousand civilians. In the first days of June 1941, construction sites on the Peninsula checked the Board, headed by Vice-Admiral Vladimir Tributs and was satisfied. After the Nazis attacked the Soviet Union, the soldiers took a defensive position. Before joining the war on Finland on 25 June base fired at the Luftwaffe bombers. In the first days of the war the civilian population was evacuated to Leningrad. However, the submarines, the ships and torpedo boats left the base to enhance other areas of the sea.

Strong protection

as of the replenishment arrived separate machine-gun company, and a construction battalion. The latter helped to create on the Peninsula hundreds of new Bunkers, bunkers and personnel shelters, which played a huge role during daily shelling. The remaining small boats and ships mined water area. In the first half of July the Finnish army and the Swedish battalion of volunteers made several attempts to capture Hanko and surrounding Islands, but suffered heavy losses. This was followed by a period of mutual shelling of artillery. Air operations consisting of a small squadron, was very successful: in the sky over Hanko was destroyed 54 enemy aircraft, and 4 fighter pilots received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

the Miracle of the struggle

Being in disadvantageous positions, the Soviet soldiers were able to destroy the plans of the Hitlerite coalition, but also to counter-attack. In the summer of 1941 the troops during the bloody battles took 18 Islands, which created new lines of defense by a small garrison of a few dozen people. A major role in the exploration for landing played the presence of the existing airfield. On 13 September, a mine blew up the battleship Ilmarinen that was a serious blow to the Navy Mannerheim.

a Necessary digression

however, the winter began to be felt shortage of ammunition and food, and in the Baltic sea “hosted” by the Nazis and their allies, presenting a hazard to vessels using the. So the submarine “Pravda”, which was carrying a cargo of Kronstadt, was sunk hitting a German mine area. In a difficult situation were Tallinn and Moonsund archipelago, the surroundings of Leningrad, as well as the whole Baltic fleet. Finally, realizing the futility of the capture of Hanko, the Finnish part were transferred to other parts of the front, preferring the constant shelling, and the enemy ships just went around the base. However, the established ice cover of the Peninsula could help more dense the siege of the citadel, holding the Fort for five months. In this regard, Bet decided to start the evacuation, which took place in extremely difficult conditions. 5 Dec transport turboelectric “Joseph Stalin”, 5589 carrying soldiers in the hold, reserve mines, and then was hit by the coastal batteries. Soviet trally and boats were able to save 1,700 people and other survivors were captured. During a rescue operation at sea under the onslaught of the enemy killed about five thousand men, which is 6 times more losses during the long defence.


In September 1944 Finland withdrew from the war by agreement and withdrew behind the lines outlined in the peace Treaty, 1940 year. The Soviet Union was refused a claim on Hanko, but leased territory, Porkkala, but the new base lasted until 1956.

Ivan Komarnicki

© Russian Seven

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