Pro Patria – Martti Vihtori Elo

Born on the 13th July 1915, Martti Elo was a theology student when he was called back from the reserves in October 1939. He was put in charge of the grandly named Border Detachment II, with 42 men, and given charge of an 80km wide front centered around Juntusranta. When war broke out, he was faced with waves of Soviet soldiers of the 81st and 662nd Infantry Regiments. He radioed his commanders, requesting more men and material in order to combat the growing mass but was denied. He led his platoon with stalwart bravery but his repeated requests for reinforcements were being questioned by command, many thought Elo was exaggerating the numbers.

Having had no sleep in 4 days, 2nd Lieutenant Elo told his men that he was going to personally request reinforcements from headquarters at Suomussalmi. Not long after he took his own life, the stress of the days, the mistrust from his superiors, and the overwhelming despair had broken the young student.


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