Ingrian Veteran From Finland

heimo.jpgAleksanteri Dubbelman, the Ingrian Finn born in Hatsina, was 17 years old and studying carpentry when Ingria was occupied by the Germans in 1941. “We Ingrian boys were taken to the German army and quickly trained to protect railway bridges and warehouses from Russian guerillas. We were serving between Pihkova and Novgorod . Everyone who could work was put to work. Women and children paved roads, washed clothes and dug trenches. We young men were put to guard. Nobody asked for voluntaries, it was obligatory.”

The Ingrian men’s guard duties continued until October, 1943. Even the men serving at the back lines were starting to feel that a change was coming. Rumors were started by the conversations between the Finnish army chaplains and guards. An army chaplain raised the subject of moving to Finland in the fall of 1943. The Ingrians were unanimous: to Finland . “In October we were gathered to the Battetskaja station and taken by ox carts to Tallinn . There our German belts, suspenders and weapons were taken away and the whole battalion was shipped to Hanko”

In Hanko we were put to quarantine after the welcoming ceremony and then we had to fill in the forms and decide would we join the Finnish army. “We filled the papers and got Finnish army uniforms. We jumped again on ox carts and were moved to Kiviniemi for three months of training In April 26th 1944 we sweared our oaths and got to the front in the troops of Battalion 6.

“When the Russians’ great assault began in June 9th 1944 we were at Korpikylä close to the old border. I was the 3rd company’s leader’s messenger. Just last night I had watched the proceeding of the Russian troops, which seemed endless, with him. The firing started in the morning. It was raining bullets all the time. It was hopeless. We got the order to retreat and came back over 20 kilometers of marshland. Our company’s leader, lieutenant Parola, got wounded and carried him over the marshlands. We came up to the Mannerheim-line. The whole battalion was scattered. On the line we started to get a little more organized. I became ill with dysentery and was sent to the hospital at Kuusankoski” Aleksanteri Dubbelman tells.

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