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- Hanko Cape and the surrounding area has been nearly always an important military object. The Gulf of Finland can be easily closed with coastal batteries located in Hanko Cape and in Paldiski, which is located in the Estonian coast. The distance between these two places is only 80 kilometers. The distance
between Russarö which is close to Hanko and Osmussaar which is located quite close to Paldiski, is only some 60 kilometers. For
this reason the area has always been an important place for Russia and before them, to the Swedes. The Hanko Cape also offers an excellent place to land forces and to advance quickly towards Helsinki and
Turku. The last important factor is the fact that the Hanko harbour remains operational through out the year.
All of these facts were proven to work during the First World War, when the Imperial Russia closed the gap between
Hanko/Russarö and Paldiski/Osmussaar with their coastal batteries, thus preventing naval movements to Gulf of Finland and towards St. Petersburg.
After that came the Germans during the Finnish Civil War and landed to
Hanko in April 1918 and advanced quickly to Helsinki. The more mobile and modern warfare and the fact that fixed coastal gun positions have become obsolete in this sense, haven't diminished the military importance of Hanko Cape.
- At one point Stalin suggested that if Finland doesn't like a foreign military base in their soil, then the Russians would dig a channel through the Hanko Cape, so that the base would not be in the Finnish mainland. The negotiations however came to a fruitless end on 9th of November 1939 and on 30th of November the Winter War started with the well known results.
- As the Winter War came to an end on 13th of March 1940, Finland was forced to accept much harder territorial losses than what had been talked during the
autumn of 1939. One of these territorial losses was the Hanko Cape and the surrounding islands. The area, which was rented to Soviet Union was a lot bigger, than the area which had been talked previously. The situation for Finland was now extremely dangerous and the Hanko Cape
needed to be closed effectively from the Soviet base. The order for the
defence of Hanko Section was given immediately after the Winter War on 15th of March 1940 and Colonel Lieutenant Kesämaa was appointed
as its commander on 19th of March 1940.
- Also as it was most likely that the main Soviet attack would happen in the eastern frontier, only limited amount of troops would be reserved for Hanko area. The defensive line was planned and build to the level of: Sommarö - Björnholmen - Skogby - Harparskog - Vitträsk - Storholmen - Bojnäset - Grundsund - Bredvik.
- It was assumed that the construction of the defensive line would cost some 70 to 100 million Finnish marks. The construction was started very quickly and most of the plans for different areas were ready already in the
summer of 1940. During the winter much was made ready and Field Marshal Mannerheim visited also the area to see how the constructions were progressing. As the war started, the constructions in Hanko Cape area were nearly completed. The fortification work on the east and west side of Hanko Cape didn't really start until the
spring of 1941 and so not much was completed in those areas. Still also in those areas, the field fortifications were build constantly.
Copyright © 2005, 2006 Kimmo Nummela