Siilasvuo, Hjalmar Fridolf, born 18-03-1892 in Helsinki, the son of a newspaper editor, Siilasvuo had studied law, and been involved with politics in the Ministry of Education. He was an officer in the Jäger Battalion in Germany during World War I, and later became a battalion commander during the Finnish Civil War. He was opinionated, but a cunning military commander. Siilasvuo was a colonel that Carl Gustav Mannerheim assigned to lead Infantry Regiment 27 ( JR 27 ), Finnish troops sent to oppose two Red Army divisions, the 163rd and 44th, at Suomussalmi during the Winter War. Siilasvuo fought the 163rd division, fully aware that if the 163rd and 44th ever met up, it would be all over for the defenders of Suomussalmi. While fighting the 163rd division, Siilasvuo sent troops to take advantage of the terrain the slow moving 44th was using to pin the division, so they could go no further. The 44th were a crack division, but their expertise was fast moving mechanized warfare, and the terrain meant they had to leave their heavier equipment behind, go slowly with what they had. The unit had plenty of skis but few in the division could ski. After dealing with the 163rd mottis, Motti is Finnish military slang for a totally encircled enemy unit, the Finns looted weapons and equipment and used them to attack the pinned 44th Even though they were tired from destroying the 163rd the division’s spoils immediately raised morale among the troops, convincing them they could finish the 44th from two directions – north and south. From the 163rd and 44th divisions, the Finnish soldiers captured 85 tanks, 437 trucks, 1.620 horses, 52 cannons, 40 field artillery, 78 anti-tank guns, 20 tractors, 13 AA guns, over 6.000 rifles and an enormous amount of ammunition.
The Soviet High Command executed a number of Generals for this loss. Afterwards, Siilasvuo was sent to the Kuhmo sector, to deal with the Red Army’s 54th Division. Upon arrival with all the new weaponry, Siilasvuo ordered an artillery barrage of 3,200 rounds, something unheard of in the Finnish forces during the Winter War. Siilasvuo’s men pinned the 54th but it survived until the peace, although according to Siilasvuo the Finns would have won, had the fight gone on for just a couple of days longer. With his record in the Winter War, Siilasvuo was promoted to General. During the Continuation War he led the III Corps in northern Finland in 1941 and on the Karelian in 1944. In September 1941 SS Division “Nord” under Waffen SS Hauptsturmführer, Lothar Debes was attached to the Finnish III Corps under Finnish General Hjalmar Siilasvuo, this was the only time that an SS Division was under the command of a non-German officer, and took up new positions at Louhi, Kiestinki. After the armistice with the Soviets, he was given the command of the Finnish forces fighting the Germans in Lapland.
Siilasvuo left with the German Norway commander, Nikolaus von Falkenhorst. Reichsführer, Heinrich Himmler came to visit him and SS Obergruppenführer, Karl Maria Demelhuber He was awarded the Mannerheim Cross on 21-12-1944. His son Ensio Siilasvuo
was also a General in the Finnish Army. He died age 81, on 10-01-2003.
Death and burial ground of Siilasvuo, Hjalmar Fridolf.
Hjalmar Siilasvuo retired in Oulu, where he at the young age of 54 died, on 11-01-1947 and is buried with his wife Salli, who died age 84, on 01-11-1978, on the local Cemetery of Oulu.