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"Jussi" Neva - Service in HLeLv 26

The Continuation War | The War in Lapland | Credits]

This article was originally written by the fighter pilot Carl-Erik Bruun. Published with gracious permission by Göran Bruun.

Service in HLeLv 26.

Born August 13, 1921.
Deceased April 13, 1996.
Flight Badge #988, awarded February 16, 1943.
Training on War Pilot Course #3, March 21, 1940.

Written by: Carl-Erik Bruun
Transcription and photos: Göran Bruun
Proofreading: Jukka O. Kauppinen "Grendel"

English translation: Lt(jg) Markku Herd, Finnish Navy.

The Continuation War

Neva was accepted in the Air Force on War Pilot Course #3, which began at Kauhava in April 1940. From there to Niinisalo on Officer Course #54, Feb 28 - Jul 15, '42. Transferred after T-LeLv 35 to the 2nd Flight of Llv 26 at Malmi in March 1, 1943. Flight time at that point was 182 h 35 min.

His first flight in the squadron was with the Hawker Hurricane Mk I, HC-460 in March 4, 1943. The plane type training took 40 minutes, staring at 1:50 pm. The HC's had arrived to the squadron in summer 1942 for the defence of Helsinki, and they were used for night interception as well. Type trainings were continued with the Llv 26's main plane type, the Fiat G50, in March 5, '43, when Jussi made three landings with the FA-34. The following days were spent in exercises, until his first war flight, an interception mission with the HC-452, in March 10. The flight took him up to 6.000 meters, but no enemy planes were encountered.

March 18, 1943. The squadron left Malmi. The planes were flown to Kilpasilta, at the Carelian Isthmus. Neva flew the FA-27, taking off at Malmi on 3:00 pm and arriving at Kilpasilta 1:20 hours later.

May 2, 1943. First air combat above the Saunasaari-Miikkulainen area. Neva was flying the FA-19 in a group of four, sent to assist a Fiat patrol. The enemy had four I-15's and two I-153's. The first patrol dropped a I-153 and a I-15bis, the only kills in the year 1943. The other Fiats scored no kills, due to inexperienced pilots.

June 1, 1943. The next air combat, west of Lake Lempaalanjärvi. Five FA planes were sent on an interception mission in the Lempaala direction. Neva flew the FA-34, his wingman was sgt Toivo Kylliäinen with the FA-17. Two enemy Tomahawk fighters attacked Kylliäinen and shot the plane into flames. Badly wounded Kylliäinen escaped with parachute and fell between frontlines, but managed to crawl through minefield to home side. Due to his wounds, his arm was shortened by 5 cm (2 inches). The combat took place after 5:00 pm.

By the end of 1943, Neva had total of 230 flight hours and 26 combat missions.

February 1944. The squadron received new designation, Hävittäjälentolaivue 26 (HLeLv26, Fighter Flight Squadron 26) and in Feb 16th a new commander as well, Major Lauri Larjo. Maj Ape Carlsson was moved to a new assignment. The Fiat equipment was obsolete by the time and the squadron was promised new planes, the domestic "Myrsky". Capt Lauri Hämäläinen delivered the MY-4 in Feb 26, 1944. The other pilots were given type training, Neva in March 10 at 9:30 am. All pilots agreed that the plane was not suitable for frontline duty. When Lt Jaakko Marttila was on an exercise flight, both the plane's wings snapped by the national insignia, and Marttila perished. The new equipment was not received.

May 7, 1944. The squadron was informed that they'd receive Brewster fighters. Whose bright idea was it to make everyone happy by giving the BW's to the 26 and the Messerschmitts to the 24?

Transfer to Heinjoki, at Raulampi. Lt Oiva Halmetoja was left as the senior officer at Kilpasilta.
May 9, 1944. Neva flew another type flight, with the BW-382 at 1:35 pm. His total flight time 237 h 45 min.

The monthly flight time quota was increased, since the BW had capacity for over four hours action. First escort mission on May 14, with the BW-377. Enemy began their grand assault on June 9.

June 14, 1944. The BW's were moved to Immola in the evening. Neva flew the BW-384 at 10:00 pm.
At night, Lt Erik Teromaa, Neva and Lt Orvo Helenius shot down a DB-3f over the Heinjoki station. Neva with the BW-384, scoring 1/3 of a DB-3f.

June 16, 1944. Transfer to Käkisalmi, Neva flying the BW-370 at 6:00 pm. The German Staffel Kuhlmey arrived at Immola.

June 17, 1944. Air combat, Neva with the BW-370, at 4:50 pm. No kills.

June 18, 1944. The enemy attempted to bomb Hiitola with 28 PE-2's and 8 fighters. All planes scrambled and were able to prevent the bombing. Neva with BW-370 and 2ndLt Martti Tihveräinen dropped one PE-2 together. The combat took place north of Lake Pyhäjärvi, at 7:45 - 8:55 am. With 20 combat missions in June, Neva's flight hours were increased by 13 h 05 min.

July 1944 saw even more action, 24 combat flights and 31 h 45 min flight time.

July 2, 1944. A great number of enemy planes attacked Immola, causing severe damage. Pilots sat an hour in their planes at Käkisalmi waiting for an attack. They had left their planes just before receiving information, that Immola was in fire. Scramble at 8:00 pm. Neva flew the BW-370. Nothing could be done any more.
July 6, 1944. Mission from Käkisalmi to Mensuvaara, with Lt Bruun at lead, to cover retreat from the Mantsi island. Take-off at 00:15 am, Neva flew the BW-384. After that we escorted a transport, at 1:25 - 3:45 am. Spotted a I-15, which ran south when we turned to intercept. Return to Käkisalmi at 5:50.
July 7, 1944. At 8:55 am we left Käkisalmi for good, moving first to Mensuvaara.
July 10, 1944. An intercept mission at 9:15 am and air combat with LaGG-3 planes. Neva with the BW-370, no kills.
July 14, 1944. At 12:35 pm, Neva searched for an observation balloon with the BW-370.
July 21, 1944. Maj Larjo had to land at Helylä, with plane damaged by enemy.
July 24, 1944. Lt Aarno Juurinen flew Larjo's plane from Helylä. Lt Olli Riekki and Neva gave escort, Neva with the BW-364.
July 29, 1944. Maj Larjo was shot down at Tolvajärvi. He escaped with his chute, but died of his wounds in the military hospital. Maj Erkki Metsola was assigned as the new commander.

Julu 30, 1944. Bruun, Neva, 2ndLt Matti Kukkonen and Sgt Unto Metiäinen left Mensuvaara for Wärtsilä at 2:50 am. Neva with BW-357. One escort flight at morning. At 19:45 the group took off on an interception flight to Tolvajärvi, with Bruun at lead. Encountered 29 attack planes (IL-2) firing at the front line.

Unto Metiäinen wounded. Photo via Göran Bruun.
Bruun and Metiäinen were in the first wing, Neva had Kukkonen as his wingman. Bruun took some time to plan the attack, and that's when a row of Yak-7b's dived from above. Bruun turned to face them, pushing the plane down to not give them a lead. Metiäinen flew right at them, and was hit. An exploding bullet hit his right side in the radio equipment, and tore a piece of his upper arm. Fragments hit his head, but he got away to the shore of Lake Ladoga with enemy at his tail. He managed to land at Wärtsilä and was taken to hospital.
Bruun fired at the planes zooming past, scoring no visible hits. Kukkonen removed his handgloves and was firing at his target, when an enemy plane shot his BW to flames from below. Kukkonen covered his face from the flames, getting burns in his arms. He ejected, the wind almost pushed his chute to enemy side. He managed to guide his chute to home side, where he was taken for first aid.

Suddenly the sky was empty, with Bruun and Neva left. One kill was scored and added to Metiäinen's list (missing from records, since Metiäinen was in hospital and was unable to write a combat report. Army men witnessed the kill.)

Bruun and Neva returned to Mensuvaara at 10:25 pm. The Tolvajärvi flight (Bruun, Kukkonen, Metiäinen ja Neva) have gathered together annually in July 30th in remembrance to the battle, last time in 1995.

By the end of July '44, Neva had total flight time of 305 hours 15 minutes.

August 1, 1944. No planes in flying condition in the morning.
Transfer from Mensuvaara to Wärtsilä.
August 6, 1944. Bruun and Neva (BW-370) circled around a LaGG-3, because orders were to avoid combat.
August 7, 1944. The Regiment Commander, Colonel Harju-Jeanty, gave orders to search for a group of Russian soldiers that had come through the lines. Four BW's were given to Bruun's escort. There was a clear trail leading to a tank abandoned in a swamp. Bruun was about to check the situation, when he saw his escorts in combat and joined them. No kills. Neva had the BW-370. The combat happened at Lutikkavaara, at 4:45 - 6:30 am.

August 25, 1944. At 4:40 - 5:00 pm, the last flight in the war against the Soviet Union, Neva was testing the BW-357.

The squadron was moved to the Joensuu airbase at Onttola, the BW's arrived there in September 8, 1944. By the end of August, Neva had flown 83 war missions and had 313 h 40 min of flight time.

The War in Lapland

September 16, 1944. At 12:12 pm came orders that the Germans should be treated as enemies. At 5:05 pm, permission was given to fire at German planes. The squadron pilots weren't informed, which caused trouble later.

Everyone was relieved for being alive. Most pilots were given two weeks leave, and then would be released.

Lt Bruun returned from leave on October 1st and met Col Harju-Jeanty at the base.
He asked, "why haven't you left yet?" "Where was I supposed to go?" "Weren't you informed that you were to take the BW flight and go to Vaala to fight Germans!"
Bruun had taken all his winter gear home!

Maj Erkki Metsola and Lt Erik Teromaa had left to Vaala. Bruun was the senior officer present.

October 2, 1944. At 10:10 am, the eight BW's in flying shape took off for Vaala, which they found after some searching. Neva flew the BW-370. Lt Orvo Helenius joined the group later, when the heel of his plane was repaired.

The field was empty except for a small cabin with a telephone. Bruun turned the crank, and the Special HQ Sarko answered at Oulu. They were glad of our arrival and gave a recon mission right away. Our mechanics hadn't arrived yet and we needed fuel. The mission was postponed by a day.

Finnish troops had landed at Tornio and needed protection from German Stukas.
October 3, 1944. Air combat. At 1:15 pm Bruun, Lt Lars Linden and Ssgt Kaarlo Saukkonen took off to sea to escort shipments between Oulu and Röyttä. Encountered a German Ju-88 attacking the S/S Regulus. Linden hit the left engine, but the bomber hid in clouds. At the same time Teromaa's flight of six BW's was following River Kemijoki towards Rovaniemi, when they met 12 Ju-87's. They dropped their bombs and turned back. Since they didn't know if they were allowed to fire at the Stukas, chaos ensued. The gunner of one Stuka opened fire at Teromaa and wounded him in the knee. Angered, Teromaa shot the plane down and Ssgt Oiva Hietala followed his example with another Stuka. The Germans have denied the losses, but the planes are still in that swamp.

October 5, 1944. Neva flew the BW-370 for three hours at Röyttä on an escort mission. Same on October 7th and 8th, the latter with BW-363.
October 11, 1944. Escorting Blenheims and DB-3's towards Ranua, Neva with the BW-370.

Last flight in the Lapland War on October 19th, 1944. 2 h 20 min recon flight with the BW-387. This was Neva's 88th war mission, giving him total flight time of 327 h 40 min.

An extraordinary thing was that Kukkonen joined the war from hospital, even if he wasn't completely recovered yet.

Released November 15th, 1944.
Neva served in HLeLv 26 March 1st, 1943 - November 15th, 1944: 1 year, 8 months, 14 days.
Flew 16 different FA's, 15 BW's, 3 HC's, one MY and one MO. Total 145 h 05 min, averaging 18.5 min/day.
Jussi Neva joined the shadow squadron in April 11, 1996. He lived in Pori.

This summary was written by Carl-Erik Bruun after Neva's passing.


I have recovered the above story from my father's papers and transcribed it into a Word file.

April 2003
Göran Bruun

Written by: Carl-Erik Bruun
Transcription and photos: Göran Bruun
Proofreading: Jukka O. Kauppinen "Grendel"
English translation: Lt(jg) Markku Herd, Finnish Navy.

Copyright Göran Bruun 2003.



Viimeksi muokattu: 2003-12-08 23:41