Finnish Long Range Reconnaissance Troops

Finnish Raiding Forces, 1942-1944.
by Mike Haught

When the Soviets invaded Finland during the Winter War of 1939, the intelligence department of the Finnish military recognised the need for specialized long-range reconnaissance patrols to raid and gather intelligence deep behind Soviet lines. 

The first units were formed and trained in secrecy, including three guerrilla detachments, called Hiihtosissit, or skiing guerrillas. However, the troops did not see much action before the Winter War ended in 1941.

1941 - 1943
During the uneasy peace following the Winter War, the Finns secretly continued to train and expanded their guerrilla force. A new type of patrol, called a Kaukopartiojoukot, or long-range scout patrol, was formed to conduct long-range reconnaissance and guerrilla strikes far behind the enemy lines.

The troops consisted of physically and mentally fit volunteers, mostly young athletes such as skiers and runners. The missions that the patrol would undertake required calm nerves under extreme pressure and conditions.
Company-sized patrols would enter into the Soviet Union through the loose Karellian front lines on foot or by skiing. Once behind enemy lines they would establish a base of operations, leaving a small unit to guard the HQ and the patrol’s radio. Meanwhile, the company would break up into platoons or squads to conduct their mission. These small patrols were typically only about a platoon of troops (30-50 soldiers).

Only a few company- and battalion-sized patrols were deployed. These were formed to conduct certain high profile operations, such as striking well-guarded supply centres, cutting the Murmansk railway or disabling the Stalin Canal. The patrol was occasionally reinforced for these missions with guerrilla, Jääkäri (light infantry), and engineer troops from the regular army.
The Mannerheim Cross of Liberty
A Kaukopartiojoukot usually conducted reconnaissance missions, however they were also authorised to launch raids on the enemy. Typical raids targeted small convoys, Soviet officers, supply trains, and airfields. They also placed mines on important roads and railways and tapped into the Soviet communication lines to gather intelligence and radio back to Finland for analysis.

Learn about the Train Attack scenario here...

The Soviet guard units pursued the patrols as best they could, but more often than not the sly Kaukopartiojoukot managed to slip away to safety thanks to superior training, a remarkable radio network, and detailed knowledge of their opponents. In fact, the patrol often knew more about their Soviet pursuers than the Soviets knew of themselves!
A Finnish HMG

Other Long-Range Patrol Units
Other units, such as the Sissi (guerrilla) and Jääkäri (light infantry) conducted similar operations as the Kaukopartiojoukot, but otherwise had little in common with the long-range patrols. These units undertook more traditional scouting and patrolling missions and operated much closer to the front lines under the command of the local army corps, division or regiment.

The Kaukopartiojoukot Battalion
In July 1943 all of the various Kaukopartiojoukot patrols were grouped together into Erillinen Pataljoona 4 (Separate Battalion 4). The full strength of the battalion was 678 men and 76 women. There was even an Estonian volunteer patrol within Separate Battalion 4.

In 1943, the battalion sent over 50 patrols behind the lines and over 100 were sent the following year. The intelligence gathered was very important and critical to the Finnish military, especially in the summer 1944 during the Soviet offensive.

After the Continuation War, Separate Battalion 4 deployed against the Germans during the Lapland War before it was disbanded in November 1944.

A Kaukopartiojoukot Company
On paper the typical Kaukopartiojoukot Company at full strength consisted of 156 men and 15 women, but in reality companies never had enough personnel. The company was organized with three Kiväärijoukkue (rifle) platoons each with four Kivääriryhmä (rifle squads) for a total of 35 troops.

Each company also had a Radioasema (radio station) platoon with 11 soldiers detached from the Radioasema company. These were in constant contact with the battalion headquarters.

Finally, each company had a Huoltojoukkue (supply) platoon which handled the company’s logistic needs. The 33 troops of the platoon were also expected to fight should they be needed.
Finnish Coat of Arms
Special Equipment
The Kaukopartiojoukot had access to some truly innovative technology to help them conduct their operations. For
example, they used a chemical liquid that confused dogs’ sense of smell so they could evade Soviet patrols. Special
snow track mines were used to deploy small minefields as well as improvised explosives. They also acquired a number
of German smokeless petrol cookers in late 1943 which helped keep their camp concealed from the Soviets.

Perhaps the most valuable piece of equipment in the patrol was the small lightweight guerrilla telegraph radio
called a Kyynel, (literally translated as ‘tear’ owing to its shape) and a simple radio receiver called a Töpö, or stump. These innovative radios kept the patrols in constant contact with HQ and gave Finnish intelligence critical information in near real-time.
Finns pose for a photo Radios and Message Encrypting
The first Kyynel radios were inspired by a German radio design which weighed 33 pounds (15kg).

The Finnish developed the Model M10 in 1942 which was fully stabilized and weighed only 12 pounds (5.6 kg) with batteries. Other contemporary foreign designs weighed a lot more, usually between 22 to 44 pounds (10 to 20kg). This ingenious Finnish guerrilla radio was the most advanced one of its kind in the world.
The radio would transmit at a frequency of 3500 - 5000 kHz and had sending power of up to 0.5 Watts, depending on
the power of batteries. This gave the radio a range of up to 435 miles (700km) in good weather.

Patrols sent encrypted messages using a simple but effective code pattern created exclusively for each patrol, which made it impossible to solve without a key.

Finnish Radio Intelligence had also decrypted many Soviet codes, which gave Kaukopartiojoukot patrols plenty

of warning should there be any possible danger in the area.
Uniforms and Armament
The patrols wore standard Finnish military uniforms. Sometimes they would use a combination of Finnish and captured Soviet uniforms so as to confuse enemy patrols if spotted far away.

While officially called rifle platoons, each patrol was primarily armed with the highly accurate and reliable 9mm M/31 Suomi Submachine-gun. However, at least one man in the patrol carried a rifle for long-range shooting.
Finns with SMGs
A Kaukopartiojoukot In Flames Of War
A Kaukopartiojoukot is fielded in Flames Of War as a 500-1000 point raiding force, similar to the SAS and LRDG forces found in Sting of the Scorpion. However, it can also be fielded at 1500 or more points for those players willing and daring enough to take on larger raids!

Finns on defense The following intelligence briefing will allow players to conduct all of the raid missions found in that publication as well as the ones found on the website. These raiding missions are great for recreating the tasks undertaken by the Kaukopartiojoukot. However, be sure to check out Wargames Illustrated issue 270 (also coming soon to the website) for a new raiding mission for your Finnish troops along with a battle report featuring a Kaukopartiojoukot in action!

A Kaukopartiojoukot uses standard Finnish models. They fought all year round and thus any of your existing Finnish models will work perfectly. You can also use Soviet figures as well for those troops you equip with Soviet Uniforms.
Typically, a Kaukopartiojoukot would face Soviet security troops which differed little from the standard Strelkovy battalions used by the Soviet Union. They also saw action against the Germans during the Lapland War, making them valid opponents as well. Of course, you can play against any army you like!

This briefing can be used in both Mid and Late-war games, as the equipment and rating of the troops did not change
between the eras.

Fielding a Kaukopartiojoukot in Flames Of War
Fielding a Kaukopartiojoukot is a perfect way to emulate the daring raids and missions undertaken by these elite troops. The raids were small, usually consisting of a single platoon with some support. There were also larger missions you can recreate such as cutting the Murmansk railway.
Kaukopartiojoukot Briefing Page Fan
Download The Intelligence Briefing Here
Either way, this briefing gives you everything you need to get out there and wreak havoc on the Soviet war effort!

Download a PDF version of Kaukopartiojoukot: Finnish Raiding Forces 1942-1944 here...

Version Three Approved

Last Updated On Tuesday, August 21, 2012 by Wayne at Battlefront